Losing our baby teeth is a rite of passage, but for our canine friends it is an oftentimes overlooked event. In fact, many puppy owners are surprised when they learn that puppies lose teeth at all. Those sharp, needle-like teeth are, however, replaced by adult teeth early in life.
Much like human babies, puppies are not usually born with any teeth. They begin to erupt baby, or deciduous teeth, at about 3-5 weeks of age. Typically these 28 teeth are erupted by about 10 weeks of age.
The front incisors typically come in first, followed by premolars and molars, with the canine teeth emerging last.
Like all mammals, these deciduous teeth are meant to fall out and be replaced by permanent adult teeth. This begins to occur around 4 months of age and is complete by 7-8 months of age.
Helping Your Teething Pup
If you have paid attention to the math, you might have realized by now that your puppy’s first 7-8 months are spent teething!
Puppy teething is a natural process and most pooches tolerate it quite well. If your puppy is eating, drinking, and playful there is probably little need for any intervention on your end. You can help, though, by:
- Providing soft, flexible toys to chew on (supervise closely so no part of the toy is chewed/swallowed)
- Consider rubber toys that can be frozen to provide a nice, soothing treat
- Redirect chewing on your personal items to appropriate chew toys
Most times puppy teeth fall out without any intervention on your end. You may see some blood on your puppy’s chew toys during this period as teeth exfoliate. It is not unusual to not find baby teeth as they fall out- many times they are swallowed or lost somewhere in the yard.
It is probably best to avoid actual tooth brushing during this period as your pup’s mouth is likely extra sensitive. You don’t want them to associate brushing with pain. You can, however, get your puppy used to having their mouth handled by playfully and gently lifting the lips and having a look from time to time.
Problems with Puppy Teeth
Puppy teeth are usually pretty low maintenance, but sometimes things don’t go quite right. Occasionally we see problems such as:
Fractured deciduous teeth – Sometimes during play or chewing, a baby tooth will break. Broken baby teeth need to be extracted right away as they can be painful, subject to infection, or even cause damage to the permanent tooth underneath.
Retained deciduous teeth – Two teeth should never occupy the same space in the mouth at one time. If an adult tooth fails to push out a baby tooth, the baby tooth is considered retained. Retained deciduous teeth should be extracted as their presence can affect the position of the adult tooth. They also cause acceleration of periodontal disease.
Malocclusion – If a puppy’s teeth erupt in abnormal locations, problems can ensue. Just like a child who needs braces, a poor bite may need to be addressed so that the dog’s mouth can function properly and pain free.
If you notice that your puppy’s teeth don’t look quite right, please contact us so that we can help determine what the best course of action is.
The Woof Fairy may not be visiting your pup, but taking care of puppy teeth is just as important as taking care of your dog’s adult teeth. Putting their best paw forward helps to set the stage for good dental health for life.