How many teeth does a dog have?

Adult dogs have 20 teeth in the upper jaw and 22 in the lower jaw for a total of 42 teeth

How many teeth does a dog have? Dog teeth numbers in adults and puppies
I= Incisives; C= Canines; P= Premolars; M= Molars

How many baby teeth do dogs have, and when are puppies losing teeth?

Baby teeth are also called temporary, milk, or deciduous teeth.

Puppies have 14 teeth in the upper jaw and 14 in the lower jaw for a total of 28 milk teeth.

Temporary teeth are pushed by developing permanent ones and are released from their sockets.

Puppies are toothless at birth. The first teeth appear during the first weeks of life, and the complete set of milk teeth is present and fully functional at two months of age.

Around month 3, milk teeth start to be lost and replaced by permanent teeth.

The complete set of permanent teeth will be ready between 6 and 7 months of age

This timing indicates the approximate age of a puppy.

Curious fact: Permanent teeth appear earlier in larger breeds of dogs like Great Danes or Golden Retrievers, for instance.

What does a dog tooth look like?

A dog tooth is made of the same materials and looks similar to a human tooth.

The outer part that makes contact with food is enamel. This covering of the tooth is among the strongest materials in nature.

The core bulk is called dentine which is hollow in the central part to lodge the pulp (where nerves and blood vessels feeding the tooth are). Cement glues the teeth to their corresponding sockets in the upper and lower jaws.

Dog teeth structure is similar to humans. Dog teeth also have enamel, dentine cement and pulp just like in people
Dog teeth structure is similar to humans. Dog teeth also have enamel, dentine cement, and pulp just like people

The four names of dog teeth

The four basic tooth types in dogs (and mammals in general) are:

  • Incisors
  • Canines
  • Premolars
  • Molars
Basic dog tooth types are incisor, canine, premolar, and molar

Adult dogs have:

Upper jaw

  • 6 incisors
  • 2 canines
  • 8 premolars
  • 4 molars

Lower jaw

  • 6 incisors
  • 2 canines
  • 8 premolars
  • 6 molars

Puppies with a complete set of milk teeth have (on each jaw):

  • 6 incisors
  • 2 canines
  • 6 premolars

Notice that molars are absent in puppies with temporary teeth (as in all mammals).

The place for Incisor teeth is in the front part of both jaws. They are peglike and tend to crowd together.

The term “incisor” comes from Latin, meaning “dividing,” which suggests incisors divide or shear food before entering the mouth but are in practice used by dogs for nibbling and grooming

Courtesy of Mariana Pelayo from Unsplash

Canine teeth in dogs are so developed and prominent that they lend their name to this type of teeth in all mammals. Just look at the dog’s scientific name: Canis familiaris. They are large backward-curved teeth used for wounding and holding prey.

Curious tip: A temporary canine sometimes becomes retained in adult dogs. A veterinary surgeon will remove it to allow the permanent canine teeth to emerge and achieve a regular position.

Premolar and molar teeth together constitute the cheek teeth. Collectively and in succession, they look like pinking shears. Premolars and molars do the shearing forces that divide food before swallowing it.

Molars are located in the back of the mouth and are more developed with higher masticatory contact areas than premolars. Therefore, they specialize in crushing hard foodstuff like bones. The first molar is well-developed and pretty dangerous during bites.

How to take care of your dog’s teeth? Avoiding dog periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is a condition that affects the soft tissues (gums) and bones surrounding a tooth, usually with inflammation.

Studies reveal that 86% of the dog population in the US has some level of periodontal disease. Therefore dog teeth care is usually overlooked and should be an essential part of the overall dog health care strategy.

Periodontal disease in dogs is produced by bacteria that accumulate detritus in the tooth and associated gum. Therefore inflammation is produced
Periodontal disease in dogs is produced by bacteria that accumulate detritus in the tooth and associated gum. Therefore inflammation is produced.

A veterinarian should conduct a complete oral examination on your dog every 6–12 months.
Bacteria thriving in an inflamed gum could eventually travel through the blood circulation and create disease in further away organs like the heart.

How often should you brush your dog’s teeth?

The number one enemy of plaque formation is regularly brushing your dog’s teeth and providing specialty dental foods, including certain toys and rawhide.

It is essential to use toothpaste specifically formulated for dogs.

Some treats, dog foods, and dental chews are coated with special chemical substances (i.e., polyphosphates) that make the oral environment hostile to bacteria or avoid hardening dental plaque into tartar. Bone (large ones) can help remove plaque (see the bone chewing section in our raw food article).

Bone chewing is helpful for removing bacteria that attach to the teeth' surface
Image courtesy of Barnabas Davoti from Pexels

Once tartar has formed, it won’t come off with regular teeth cleaning or chewing stuff. In that case, teeth cleaning (prophylaxis) should be done by a veterinarian (in a similar way dentists cleans our teeth). Sometimes vet dentists will apply wax polymers to the surface of the teeth to prevent bacteria attachment and can be reapplied by the owner of the dog once a week to complement tooth brushing, diet, and chews approach.

Image courtesy of Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Finally, dogs’ teeth should be cleaned with a toothbrush once a day. Tooth brushing can control plaque accumulation, but existing plaque should be removed by dental cleaning (scaling or prophylaxis) and polishing by a veterinarian every six months (or at the most once a year).

Now you know how many teeth a dog has and some essential teeth care tips.

Leave a comment, or you may want to see what the dog skull (where teeth are implanted) is like.

Feature image courtesy of Amal Santhosh from Pexels


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