As we consider dogs as a man’s best friend, we also consider a lot of aspects about them such as their hygiene, nutrition, manners and other things. One most important thing that we need to consider is the dog’s teeth. I often hear the question – How many teeth does an adult dog have – and this will also make me wonder as to the number and components of their teeth.
I know that a dog’s teeth is very vital on every aspect of their lives as it is the teeth that they use to chew their food with, to playfully nibble and pick up balls and dog toys as well as to attack and bite anyone that they deemed as dangerous. With these reasons, it is not a secret at how important the dog’s teeth are to them.
As dog’s teeth are significant to them as our teeth are important to us, we tend to become curious of their development from the time that they are still cute little puppies to being adult dogs. How many teeth do adult dogs have and how to properly take care of their teeth to ensure that it remains healthy and strong will be tackled and discussed for a better understanding of dogs.
How Many Sets Of Teeth Do Dogs Have?
How many sets of teeth do dogs have? Simple, they have 2 sets just like humans do. Each of the sets are properly designed to serve their purpose at a dog’s given age.
- Milk Teeth. Just like babies, the first set of a puppy’s teeth is called milk teeth because they come out from gums while the puppies are still feeding on milk. The first set of teeth does not have molars considering that small puppies do not need them yet at that age. Though molars are not yet present, these teeth should still be considered sharp and tiny. After 4 months of age, these milk teeth are being replaced permanently by their adult teeth.
- Adult Teeth. Bigger than milk teeth, these adult teeth are strongly rooted on the dog’s gums to secure them for life.
How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have?
Dogs have different number of teeth depending on the set of teeth that they are currently in. For puppies having a set of milk teeth, they have a total of 28 teeth that get replaced during adulthood. While how many teeth do adult dogs have – they are usually completed by the time they reach 6 months of age to which they already have 42 strong teeth by then.
The Different Types Of Teeth That A Dog Has
The teeth of dogs are also classified into four different types that have their own purpose and uses. These types of dog teeth are:
- Incisors. Incisors are found on the front of your dog’s mouth. They are small and help your dog to groom themselves by chewing their coat which relieves themselves from fleas, mats and burs. You should find 6 teeth on top and another 6 at the bottom. These incisors are also used by your dogs to take a meat off from a bone.
- Most familiarly known to us as fangs, these teeth are seen as the sharp and pointy teeth on both sides of your dog’s mouth. They use their fangs to get hold of something because it has deeper grasp compared to the other types of teeth. It is also the fangs that we should be cautious of because it is what they use to pierce things and break our skin when they bite us. There are 2 fangs on top as well as another 2 fangs below, the left and the right fangs are separated by the 6 incisors.
- The teeth after the fangs are the premolars. Premolars are usually responsible for chewing. When you give your dog a toy, he’ll pick it up with his fangs and incisors but will transfer the workload of chewing to its premolars. It is also used for shearing things and ripping a meat off from a bone. Dogs have 16 premolar teeth: 4 on the upper left side, 4 on the upper right side, 4 on the lower left side and another 4 on the lower right side.
- Molars are held responsible to do the hardest work of all as they are tasked to do heavy duty work by breaking down and grinding large and hard things such as bones, dog biscuits and large kibble. There are 10 molars in a dog: 2 molars each on the right and left of the top jaw and 3 on each side of the lower jaw.
Importance Of Brushing And Over-All Health
Brushing your dog’s teeth is as important as brushing your own human’s teeth considering that there has been a link between gum disease and heart disease. This connection has been found out through a study from Purdue University. If you neglect the assemblage of tartar in your dog’s gum line, anaerobic bacteria will grow and travel to the roots of your dog’s teeth which will cause the teeth to fall out from its place. Since there are no more teeth to protect the blood stream, the bacteria will enter your dog’s system and will stay in your dog’s heart. It will build up like a plaque and slowly develop into a heart disease that can cause death, if not prevented and treated.
You will know if there is already a gum problem on your dog if you see these signs: (a) swollen and bleeding gums, (b) bad breath, (c) missing teeth, and (d) build-up of white or yellowish tartar on the gum line.
Other dental diseases that are the result of improper dental care are:
- Chronic foul breath
- Infection between the teeth and the gums
- Development of tumors or cysts in the mouth
Early warning signs of poor dental hygiene problems include but not limited to the following:
- Broken and/or missing teeth
- Swollen and reddish gums
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Bloody saliva
- Loss of appetite
- Too much drooling
- Brow-yellowish tartar building up along the gum line
Since dogs are animals, they might not feel great about the idea of tooth brushing. Hence, it is important that the practice of proper dental hygiene should start while they are still small so that they can get accustomed to the idea of dental care.
You can also make them feel acquainted on the idea of tooth brushing by starting one step at a time. Massage their lips using your fingers in a circular motion for a minute once or twice a day for several weeks. This will allow your dog to be accustomed and comfortable about the sensation and it will be easier for you to proceed to the mouth and gums.
Once your dog is ready for a toothbrush, it is best to use a medium-bristle brush and plain water. It is important to note that you must need to avoid using human toothpaste to your dog as they certainly dislike the taste. You may also purchase dog toothpaste which has several flavors that can entice your dogs. To brush your dog’s teeth, you may follow these steps:
- Put a small amount of dog toothpaste on the brush. If you opt not to use a toothpaste, you can still brush using only water by wetting the brush with it.
- Lightly open your dog’s mouth just enough to insert the toothbrush. Make sure that you do not force your dog to open its mouth as forceful opening may cause your dog to become aggressive and bite you in the process.
- Start brushing along the gum line at the back near the molars.
- Proceed by moving the brush forward towards the incisors.
- Rinse the toothbrush that you are using in plain water as often as possible while brushing.
If your dog has a great build-up of tartar, regular brushing might not do any good and your dog will be required to visit a veterinary dentist for thorough cleaning. The veterinary dentist will use a dental pick and scuff off the tartar build up. The surface of the teeth will then be polished so that bacteria will have lesser chances to stick on the gum line and the teeth.
Alternatives To Brushing
If you have a hard time making your dog feel at ease with brushing its teeth, then you can still have other alternatives. You can see a lot of dental sprays as well as various gels that you can apply on your dog’s teeth a number of times a week to assist in removing tartar and plaque.
There is also an available additive that you can put and mix with water. The mixture will help keep the tartar and plaque from building up on the gum line. It is also important that you check with your Vet the products that you want to use for your dog to ensure that it is suitable and not harmful for your pet.
Proper diet and food is also important in keeping your dog’s teeth healthy. Studies showed that hard kibbles keep plaque from being collected on the teeth. There are also dog foods that are approved by veterinary dentists. It is also important that you refrain from giving your dogs food that are left-overs or anything that is sweet since they can aid in increasing the build-up of tartar and plaque.
The use of toys is also helpful. Not only can your dogs release much of their energy through playing, they are also certain toys such as Plaque Attacker that helps in the removal of plaques. It is important that you check the toys that you are giving to your dogs carefully to ensure that the toys are safe and cannot wear down your dog’s teeth. It is important that you look after your dog every time that he is chewing to ensure that it is safe and he would not break a tooth.
Since it is already a given fact that you need the assistance of a veterinarian to take care of our pets, it is important for us to know what they are doing to our dogs.
Oral exams are done by the veterinarian to check and identify if there are dental problems. When conducting the oral exam, your dog’s vet will:
- Check your dog’s face and head for any imbalance, discharges and swelling.
- Inspect the external surface of the dog’s gums and teeth as well as how they bite.
- Examine the insides of the dog’s mouth including the teeth, gums, tongue, tonsils, palates, and oral mucosa.
- Assess, inspect and palpate the consistency, shape and size of the salivary glands and the presence of lymph nodes on the area of the neck.
Once oral exams are made and if tartar and plaques are present, it is best that you let your veterinarian do a dental cleaning. This is a procedure done to remove the unnecessary build-up and polish the dog’s teeth. The dental cleaning will include:
- Giving anesthesia to your dog.
- X-rays are done to see the condition of all the teeth and bones in the mouth.
- Flushing an antibacterial solution to the mouth.
- Properly cleaning of the teeth using scalers. All calculus are carefully removed from the top and bottom of the gum line.
- Disclosing solution will be used to show if there are remaining calculus that need to be removed.
- Polishing the teeth which will remove scratches.
- Thorough inspection of the gum and foot to ensure that there are no dental problems.
- Flushing an antibacterial solution to the mouth for the 2nd
- Record the findings and evaluation on a chart as well as provide the follow-up plan at home and schedule next veterinary visit.
Given the knowledge above about proper teeth care for your dog as well as how it affects the teeth, it is really important and vital that you have a proper dental regimen for your pet. With the idea of how many teeth do dogs have in a normal situation, it is up to you to maintain that number as long as you do everything to keep plaque and tartar away and avoid damages.