Deciduous Teeth in Dogs

Deciduous teeth, or baby teeth, are normal in dogs. Normally, deciduous teeth appear in puppies at three to four weeks of age, and they should fall out before adult teeth grow in. Here are some basic facts about baby teeth in puppies, and what you should know if something goes wrong with your dog's baby teeth.

Basic Facts About Deciduous Teeth in Puppies

Normal puppies have 28 deciduous teeth, also known as baby teeth or milk teeth. These teeth appear at three to four weeks of age. There should be 14 teeth in the upper jaw, and 14 teeth in the lower jaw. 

Permanent adult teeth begin to emerge around the age of four months. Ideally, your puppy should lose his baby teeth before his adult teeth erupt from his gums. He will most likely lose his baby teeth one at a time, as the corresponding permanent tooth grows in. Adult dogs have more teeth than puppies; they usually have 20 teeth in the upper jaw and 22 in the bottom jaw, for a grand total of 42 permanent teeth.

Problems with Deciduous Teeth in Puppies

Your puppy should begin to lose his baby teeth at three to four months of age. Generally, adult teeth emerge under the deciduous teeth and push them out. However, some puppies develop a dental problem known as retained deciduous teeth, which occurs when the permanent teeth emerge side by side with the puppy teeth, failing to push them out. As a result, your puppy will have both deciduous teeth and permanent teeth in his mouth at the same time.

If your puppy retains his deciduous teeth, you will be able to see the permanent teeth growing in next to, or behind, the baby teeth. The incisors and canine teeth of the upper jaw are the deciduous teeth most likely to be retained.

Without treatment, the presence of both sets of teeth in your puppy's mouth could cause tooth crowding. Your puppy's teeth could grow in crooked. Crooked teeth can cause developmental problems in your puppy's growing jaw. Retained teeth can injury the inside of your dog's mouth, and they can also cause abscesses and infections. 

Treating Retained Deciduous Teeth

If your puppy retains his baby teeth, you should have them pulled. Your vet will probably recommend doing this right away, so that your dog's adult teeth can find their proper positions. Pulling your dog's retained baby teeth can prevent serious dental problems down the road. 

Extracting deciduous teeth from a puppy usually requires general anesthesia, and is considered a surgical procedure. Once your puppy reaches three to four months of age, you should begin regularly checking to make sure his adult teeth are growing in properly.

Check for abnormal tooth placement once a week until your puppy reaches seven to eight months of age. Consult your vet if you see any abnormal tooth eruption in your puppy's mouth. Once your puppy reaches seven to eight months of age, he should have all of his adult teeth.