Person inspecting dog teeth

Key takeaway

All dogs have 42 permanent teeth. Ensuring your dog’s teeth are clean and properly maintained can lead to a healthier life. By understanding how to keep adult dog teeth healthy, you can prevent tooth decay and dental diseases.

Like humans, our beloved furry friends have to lose their baby teeth to make room for their adult teeth. So, you may be asking yourself, "How many teeth do dogs have?" Believe it or not, dogs have 42 permanent teeth—that's ten more than humans. Another similarity between you and your puppy's teeth is that they need to be cared for. Understanding how to best care for adult dog teeth can minimize the risk of tooth decay, dental diseases, and other health issues.

In this blog post, we'll discuss the types of teeth your dog has, how to care for your dog’s adult teeth, the risks of not prioritizing your pet’s dental health, when you should see your vet, and more.

Types of Adult Dog Teeth

Besides knowing how many teeth dogs have, it’s also important to learn how to care for your dog’s teeth, especially since dogs aren’t able to do this for themselves. Having a better grasp of your canine’s oral health can be pivotal to avoiding diseases and other issues that can negatively impact their wellbeing.

We'll provide a comprehensive look at the varying types of adult dog teeth below to help you gain a deeper understanding of your dog's teeth.

Infographic of the types of dog teeth

Incisors

Let’s start with the incisors–the small front teeth you typically see first when you open your dog's mouth. There are six incisors located on the top of your dog's mouth and six on the bottom. The primary function of the incisors is to tear meat or treats apart. They are also often used for self-grooming.

Canines

Canine teeth are the two pointy teeth on the top and bottom of a dog’s mouth. However, don’t let the pointed nature of these teeth scare you away. They can be intimidating, but they’re great for holding onto toys when playing a game of tug of war.

Premolars

Behind the canines, you'll find the premolars. Dogs have 16 total premolars, the highest quantity of teeth in a dog’s mouth, with eight on the top and eight on the bottom. These are primarily used for shearing food, treats, and toys.

Molars

The molars are located in the back of a dog's mouth. These flat, strong teeth are ideal for grinding and chewing, and unlike the other teeth in the canine oral system, there are four molars on the top of your dog's mouth and six molars on the bottom.

How many baby teeth do puppies have?

When puppies are born, there are no visible teeth until they're about six weeks old. Like humans, deciduous teeth (also known as “milk” or baby teeth) are replaced by permanent teeth once they fall out. Dog owners can expect their pets to have their full set of permanent teeth between four and six months old.1

Don’t be concerned if your dog's baby teeth don't fall out all at once. The incisors are usually the first to fall out, followed by the premolars and canine teeth. Once this happens, be prepared for your dog to constantly bite during the teething process.

Can Dog’s Lose Their Adult Teeth?

Although the term “permanent” may seem self-explanatory, it's still possible for your dog to lose their adult teeth for a handful of reasons, including trauma, tooth decay, and dental diseases.

Reasons dogs lose their adult teeth

One common dental disease is periodontitis, which is often a result of years of plaque build-up and untreated gingivitis. Animals who develop periodontitis experience damage to the tissue around their teeth and bone strength. Once the disease has been diagnosed–which is usually between four to six years of age–it's irreversible and can lead to permanent tooth loss.2

While dog breed and size don't play a role in a dog's oral structure, smaller breeds and dogs fed a wet food diet tend to be more at risk for dental diseases. It may seem contradictory that wet food is damaging to a dog’s overall tooth health, but dogs that consume hard kibble develop fewer problems due to the cleaning effect on the teeth when the food is chewed.2

Taking Care of Your Dog’s Teeth

Neglecting the teeth in adult dogs can lead to a handful of medical problems that can affect your pet’s day-to-day. Have you ever been confused when your dog won’t eat? A tooth infection or underlying issue can be to blame. Without frequent brushing, plaque can build up on canine teeth, as it does on human teeth. When that build-up is neglected over time, it can lead to gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums.2 Gingivitis is often coupled with symptoms like bad breath and inflamed gums that bleed easily. The longer the infection is left untreated, the more likely your dog will develop periodontitis. This destroys the connective tissues around the infected tooth and can also affect the integrity of their bones.

If your pet has periodontitis, it's critical to pay attention to the detrimental effects the disease can cause since it can negatively impact your dog’s liver, heart, and kidney functions. To prevent the disease from taking a toll on your dog’s health, here are some tips for canine dental care.

Brush Daily

As we often hear from our dentists, it's extremely important to brush our teeth daily to keep them healthy and clean. Surprisingly enough, this advice can benefit our dogs as well. To ensure your pet has healthy teeth and minimal plaque build-up, brush regularly with dog-friendly toothpaste. There's even dog-friendly bacon-flavored toothpaste that can be helpful if your dog doesn't enjoy the tooth-brushing process. It may seem harmless and straightforward to brush your dog's teeth with human toothpaste, but it typically contains xylitol, which should be avoided since it's toxic to dogs.3 If your canine pal is still trying to get away when you attempt to brush their teeth, try purchasing a toothbrush with softer and smaller bristles so that it's more gentle on their gums.

Provide chew toys

Of course, it's not entirely unrealistic to simply give your pet a chew toy for their dental health. Chew toys can be as efficient as brushing your dog’s teeth and can reduce plaque build-up. Although they help minimize build-up, make sure to keep an eye on your furry friend as they chew on these toys. It's also best to avoid hard chew toys that can harm your dog’s teeth.

Dog chewing on dental treat

Give your dog dental treats

While a tasty treat for pets, dog dental treats can serve various purposes, such as promoting healthy adult dog teeth. They can also get rid of your dog’s bad breath. Ensure the dental treats you give your dog are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

Visit the Vet

Veterinarians can provide the best guidance on how to approach your dog’s dental hygiene and offer solutions for symptoms your pet may be experiencing, like bad breath or plaque build-up. If your pet is experiencing an excessive amount of plaque build-up, scheduling a visit with your vet is an excellent choice. This way, your dog can have their plaque professionally and thoroughly removed.

Adult Dog Teeth: Frequently Asked Questions

How many teeth does a small dog have?

How many teeth an adult dog has does not vary by size or breed. From small dogs to medium dogs to large dogs, all dogs have 42 teeth.

When do puppies get their adult teeth?

Compared to infants who may begin to lose their baby teeth at age five or six, puppies lose their baby teeth when they're between four to five months old. Their teeth are more susceptible to falling out due to how quickly puppies mature. By the time puppies are seven months old, all adult teeth will be present.

How many sets of teeth do dogs have?

Like humans, dogs have two sets of teeth: deciduous and adult teeth. When dogs are born, it only takes eight to ten weeks for their full set of baby teeth to completely grow in. After four to five months, their deciduous teeth will begin to appear around your house or in your pet’s food as they fall out and make room for their adult set of teeth. Adult teeth will grow as soon as the baby tooth falls out.

Final Notes

Knowing how many teeth dogs have and how to care for their teeth is essential for your pet's health. Brushing your dog’s teeth daily and giving your dog a new chew toy can reduce plaque build-up and halitosis in dogs. If you’re concerned about the health and wellbeing of your pet’s teeth, consider taking them to the vet to ensure they get the treatment they need.

That’s where Dutch telemedicine for pets comes into play. With Dutch, you can speak with a licensed veterinarian right from the comfort of your own home and get the necessary support for your pet’s health. Contact Dutch today for easy and convenient veterinary assistance.

References

  1. Staff, AKC. “When Do Puppies Lose Their Teeth?” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 24 May 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dogs-permanent-teeth/

  2. Muylle, Sofie. “Dental Development of Dogs - Dog Owners.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 22 Mar. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/digestive-disorders-of-dogs/dental-development-of-dogs.

  3. Burke, Anna. “Do Dogs Need Dental Care? - Dog Myths Debunked.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 8 May 2020, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dog-myths-debunked-dog-dental-care/