Puppy teething stages are important to understand for new puppy owners. Just as it happens with babies, puppies lose their baby teeth and not always things go as planned.
Sometimes, baby teeth my be retained, meaning that they do not fall out as they should. Then, when then the permanent teeth come in, they have little wiggle room to grow in and things can get quite problematic.
In this article, veterinarian Dr. I vana Crnec provides details about puppy teething stages, so that you can get acquainted with those puppy teeth and recognize early signs of trouble.
Puppy Teething Stages
Did you know? Dogs are born without teeth. The teeth start to erupt through the gums once the puppies are about three weeks of age.
Later on, by the age of about 8 weeks, pups should have grown a complete set of 28 deciduous or temporary teeth, sometimes called baby teeth. A puppy's baby teeth include the incisors, canines and premolars. Puppies have no molars.
At about 13 weeks, the baby teeth begin to fall out, starting with the incisors, which are usually swallowed. The roots dissolve and are reabsorbed into the jaws, allowing room for the adult teeth to grow.
By about 30 weeks of age, all of the adult teeth are in place. Adult dogs have 42 teeth: 20 in the upper jaw and because it has two extra molars, 22 in the lower jaw. Now, let's take a look that the exact teething process in puppies.
The Teething Process in Puppies
From its first to its last tooth, your puppy will probably chew through a plethora of items. This is because the teething period is painful. By gnawing items, puppies relieve the pressure thus decreasing the level of pain.
The process of loosing baby teeth is much faster than the process of erupting. Usually the baby incisors are the first to fall out.
From Birth to 2 weeks: as mentioned before, puppies are born without teeth.
From 2 to 4 Weeks: At this point you should be able to notice slightly emerged, narrow-edged teeth in the front of the mouth. The incisors are the first teeth to appear. Puppies have a total of 6 incisors – 3 in the upper and 3 in the lower jaw. By the end of this phase, premolars begin to grow. At age of 4 weeks, the needle-like canines emerge and frame the incisors.
From 5 to 8 Weeks: The last premolars appear at this point. By the age of 8 weeks, your puppy should have all of its 28 deciduous teeth.
At around 8 Weeks: the permanent teeth begin pushing the baby teeth. The roots of the baby teeth are usually reabsorbed and the baby teeth simply fall out or are being swallowed.
From 12 to 16 Weeks: At this phase, baby teeth shed and permanent teeth start coming in. It goes without saying that this stage is particularly painful for your pup.
From 6 months and Older: At the age of 6 months, all baby teeth should be gone. More often than not, by about 7 months of age, pups will have all of its 42 permanent teeth emerged. If you notice any baby teeth still present, inform your vet who will extract the remaining baby teeth.
The timing of teething is subject to some variation. In some breeds, such as the Shih Tzu and the Lhasa Apso, the baby teeth can take considerably longer than usual to erupt – up to 10 weeks. Conversely, teething begins and ends earlier in pups belonging to giant breeds.
Checking Your Puppy's Teeth
Apart from the skin, the mouth is the easiest part of our puppy to examine regularly. Train your puppy to let you routinely examine its teeth, gums and mouth. Carry out the following checks:
- Make your puppy sit, hold the lower jaw with one hand, draw the lower lip down and raise the upper lip.
- Examine the outside of the teeth for possible abnormalities (discoloration, fractures). Check the gums for discoloration and inflammation. Repeat this examination on the other side of the mouth.
- Holding the lower jaw in place, use your thumb and forefinger to lift the upper jaw and open the mouth.
- Inspect the wearing surface of the teeth, the inner tooth and gum edges, the hard palate and the tongue.
- Smell the puppy’s breath. If it smells unpleasant, report it to your vet.
- Get yourself acquainted with the below listed common teeth problems in puppies.
Retained Baby Teeth
The roots of the baby teeth naturally dissolve in a process called resorption. This process allows the teeth to fall out, thereby making room for the adult teeth to emerge. In many breeds, especially toy dogs, this process of root resorption can fail; the baby teeth do not fall out, but the adult teeth still erupt.
The roots of the baby teeth may then cause the adult teeth to erupt out of the correct alignment, producing overcrowding and various forms of malocclusion.
Double sets of teeth are clearly visible, especially if the baby incisors are retained. Food may catch between these doubled teeth, causing debris to build up, which is associated with bad breath.
The retained baby teeth should be extracted by about 5 months of age, before any malocclusions occur.
Chewing on sticks, stones, bones, and other hard materials can crack teeth, especially molars. Cracked enamel generally does not require treatment. However, if a crack involves the dental pulp, the puppy will be in pain.
Chronic hard-toy chewing and ball playing, wears down all of the teeth, including the canines. This may lead to exposure of the tooth pulp and a subsequent infection.
The broken tooth can be painful to touch. Pain will cause the puppy to eat carefully and possibly to appear listless.
A close examination under general anesthesia may be needed. Broken teeth hat have developed a pulp infection are either treated or extracted.
An ideal bite, or occlusion, is one in which the upper incisors just overlap the lower incisors when the mouth is closed. Anything other than this ideal is called a malocclusion, which in some breeds is considered normal.
Malocclusions are problematic because they can cause a displacement of the permanent teeth. Such problem can be corrected with dental extractions or by shortening the teeth in conjunction with endodontics (root canal treatment).
The Bottom Line
Teeth problems in puppies and dogs are some of the most common conditions requiring veterinary attention.
Signs that a puppy has dental problems include bad breath (halitosis), reluctance to eat, pawing at its mouth, drooling excessively, teeth chattering and difficulty swallowing.
Good oral hygiene is crucial for maintaining dental health. It is a good idea to start brushing your puppy’s teeth while still young.
Puppies will lose their baby teeth and there is no need to take extra care of them, but regular brushing will set a routine and get your pup used to maintain good oral hygiene.
It is much easier to teach a puppy than a grown-up dog to stay still with an open mouth while you brush.