Your dog’s teeth are not only the beginning of the digestive system and the means through which he receives nutrients, but also the place where bacteria can grow, develop and lead to more serious health problems.
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How Do Puppy Teeth Develop?
Your puppy will first develop his baby or milk teeth. There are 28 teeth in a full set of baby or milk teeth. Puppies will have 4 canines, 2 upper and 2 lower, which will come in around 3-5 weeks of age. Canine teeth are for catching prey and tearing meat apart. He will have 12 incisors, 6 upper and 6 lower, which will come in between weeks 4-6. Incisors are the small teeth that scrape meat from bones, nibble bites into smaller bits, and are used for basic grooming needs. Premolars will come in between 4-10 weeks of age. Your puppy will have 16 premolars, 8 upper and 8 lower. Premolars hold, shear, and cut meat and grind plant material.
Approximately 13 weeks after birth, your puppy will begin to lose his baby teeth, starting with the incisors, to make room for adult teeth. Don’t be alarmed if you notice a tooth missing but can not find the tooth anywhere. The baby teeth separate from the root and are usually swallowed by your pup. The roots to these baby teeth stay in the jaw, dissolve and are reabsorbed into the jaw. This is the time that you need to begin teaching or training your dog to have his teeth brushed. You can make brushing your dog’s teeth a pleasurable experience. I will pass along an easy five step process a little later.
How Do Adult Dog Teeth Develop?
Your dog’s adult teeth begin to come in starting with the incisors around 10-22 weeks of age. Premolars will be in place between weeks 18-26. Your adult dog’s canines and molars will develop between 22-30 weeks of age. Molars are only found in adult dogs. Your dog will have 10 molars, 4 upper and 6 lower. All totaled, a dog has 42 teeth, 20 in the upper jaw and 22 in the lower jaw. The roots of your dog’s teeth go very deep into the jawbone. They are this deeply set in bone to hold them firmly in place.
As with human teeth, a layer of hard white enamel covers a base of softer dentine. Also, just like humans, plaque will gather on the gum-line which will develop into tartar. A buildup of tartar leads to gum disease. Infection of the gums can cause the growth of bacteria to travel to your dog’s heart, kidney, or liver and reek havoc which could even include death. A healthy mouth and teeth are vital for maintaining good general health as well. Substances in your dog’s saliva act as natural antiseptics which reduces the risk of infections, which is why your pooch licks his wounds.
Hardfood, dental chews like Nylabones or Greenies, rawhide chews and bones all aide your dog maintain his pearly whites. Knuckle bones are better for your dog than marrow bones because the force your dog to keep moving his mouth around and are less likely to splinter or cause painful fractures in a tooth. All bones given to your dog should be raw. Cooked bones will also splinter and could cause fractures or sharp shards that may injure your dog’s digestive tract. The treat of a raw bone should always be under supervision and for only 15 minutes at a time. A weekly entry on your grooming schedule should be checking your dog’s mouth. When checking your dog’s mouth, with one hand, hold his lower jaw while pulling down the lower lip.. Your other hand will raise the upper lip. Examine his mouth in two parts, right and left side of head.
12 Things To Look For During Examination:
- Discoloration of the teeth
- Discoloration of the gums
- Inflammation of the gums
- Inner surface of teeth
- Inspect the wearing surface of the teeth
- Inspect the hard palate
- Inspect the tongue
- Look for lumps above or below an individual teeth
- Smell your dog’s breath
- Log visual findings on your grooming schedule so that you can spot any change that may have occurred.
5 Signs That Your Dog Has A Dental Problem:
- Slow or selective eating may indicate a multitude of mouth conditions that cause pain
- Eating with head tilted hints to pain that is only on one side of the mouth
- Difficulty opening the mouth could be caused by a head, jaw, or neck injury, an abscess, or a penetrating foreign body
- Drooling saliva could just be caused by excessive heat but could also be the result of mouth or gum disease, penetrating foreign object in the mouth, rabies, or a tumor
- Bad Breath is evidence that something is wrong. Your dog’s breath, with proper dental care, should be sweet smelling. Periodontal disease, lip fold disease, tumors, and stomach conditions can all cause bad breath. A penetrating foreign object in the mouth can also cause breath issues.
5 Step Conditioning Process
- The following pointers will make cleaning and brushing your dog’s teeth a pleasant experience. Remember that you should start this conditioning at an early age. Preferably as baby teeth start to emerge. Generally speaking, dogs do not want you to mess with their mouth. Now is the time to mold your puppy to believe that regularly scheduled inspection and teeth brushing is normal. This being said, it is never too late to start this process. Patience is the key.
Gently raise your dog’s lip to reveal his teeth.
- Using a dental tooth wipe or the edge of a clean wet washcloth, rub your dog’s gums and teeth in a gentle circular motion. Hold the corner of the moistened cloth with your index finger.
- Continually talk to your dog in a calm, soothing tone. Remind him that ‘He is a good puppy‘
- If your dog gets stressed or impatient, repeat steps 1-3 for only a short time, depending on the dog, this may be seconds. Stop and let them have a treat. Remember to tell him how good he is while giving him the treat.
- Repeat steps 1-4 again the next day. Lengthen the amount of time spent on each step.
As I said, patients is the key. Eventually, as you lengthen the time spent on each step, your dog will get his all of his teeth and gums wiped, removing plaque and bacteria from the surface and preventing tartar from forming.
Now that your dog is conditioned to allow all of his teeth to be examined and wiped, it is time to introduce a toothbrush and toothpaste. You will want to gather all the tools you will need first. This will make the process go more smoothly.
Dental Tooth Wipes have a special chemical in them that help prevent plaque buildup and freshens breath. As stated before, you may also use a wet wash cloth.
Doggie Toothpaste is flavored with malt, chicken, and other tasty things that your dog will like. It is also enzymatic so it works just by touching the surface of the teeth. The brushing action is less important than simply applying it on the tooth. Never use human toothpaste on your dog’s teeth. The fluoride in human toothpaste is actually harmful to your dog. Even humans are supposed to spit after brushing and your pooch can not spit.
Doggie Toothbrush or Finger Brush will be most effective, but a human toothbrush can also be used. The finger brush is small and flexible. It fits on your finger like a thimble. I believe it is the easiest tool to use.
4 Step Toothbrush Process
- Lets brush some teeth. Similar to the conditioning process, here is the 4 step process:
Squeeze some doggie toothpaste onto the toothbrush of finger brush and allow your dog to smell, taste, and lick it off.
- Flip up your dog’s lip and gently rub the toothpaste and toothbrush onto teeth and gums.
- Give your dog a treat, even if he only allows you to brush for a few seconds
- Repeat steps 1-3 again tomorrow, gradually lengthening the amount of time spent on brushing until you are able to completely brushing all of his teeth.
4 Warning Signs When To Take Action
Now you are armed with the basic anatomy of your dog’s mouth and teeth, as well as the importance of maintaining healthy teeth and gums. As you complete your grooming schedule, record changes, or any signs or trouble. Take your dog to the vet to get his mouth checked if you notice any of these things:
- Blood coming from your dog’s mouth
- Your dog eating in an unusual manner
- Bad Breath
- Your dog avoiding hard food or lack of appetite