Dental and Oral Anatomy in Dogs

Estimated Reading Time 3 minutes
Dental and Oral Anatomy in Dogs

Knowing about the normal structures and appearance of your dog’s mouth can make it easier to notice when something is wrong. In this article, we’ll discuss the important anatomy in and around your dog’s mouth, the important roles they play, and what to do if you find a problem.

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How many teeth do dogs have?

Dogs have 42 permanent teeth. At 3-5 weeks of age, deciduous or “baby” teeth come in. Around 4-5 months of age, permanent teeth begin to erupt and replace the deciduous teeth. All permanent teeth are fully erupted by 7 months old and all deciduous teeth should have fallen out by then. Some dogs are born with less deciduous and/or permanent teeth due to breeding, genetics, mutations, and evolution.

Dogs have 12 incisors, 4 canines, 16 premolars, and 10 molars. Incisors grasp food, while sharp canines are for tearing meat, and the flatter surfaces of premolars and molars aid in grinding and chewing food.

When do dogs get their adult teeth?

  • Incisors – between 2-5 mos.
  • Canines – between 5-6 mos.
  • Premolars – between 4-6 mos.
  • Molars – between 4-7 mos.

Between 4-5 months of age, you may notice your puppy missing a tooth, find a tooth on the floor, or even stuck in a toy. It’s thought that many deciduous teeth end up accidentally being swallowed. Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to cause issues for our pups.

Other Important Structures

Just like people and cats, dogs have salivary glands. These glands play an essential part in digestion by secreting saliva. The saliva contains enzymes that breakdown food when it’s consumed. The tongue is responsible for moving food towards the back of the mouth in order to swallow it, as well as lapping up water, licking softer foods, and cleaning the dog’s own haircoat.

Dogs are susceptible to periodontal disease just as much as any person who doesn’t brush their teeth. Unfortunately, they are also prone to certain types of oral cancers. Have your vet examine your dog’s mouth at least once per year, and always bring your dog to the vet if you suspect anything is wrong, such as pain, swelling, a bad odor, blood, discharge, or if you see a mass or growth in or around your dog’s mouth.

Certain breeds may have malocclusion, the most common being an overbite or underbite. This means they have an improper alignment of the jaw or teeth that can range from cosmetic to severe. Some dogs with malocclusion require teeth to be extracted to prevent lesions and pain in the mouth.

Some dogs have unerupted teeth that are hidden below the gum line and only visible on dental x-rays. Other dogs may retain their deciduous teeth even after permanent teeth have erupted. This can cause crowding and lead to a faster buildup of dental disease, as food stays trapped between overlapping and crowded teeth.

Read more:

Keeping Your Tiny Dog Healthy: Dental Care Edition

Everything You Need to Know About Your Dog’s Dental Health

What happens when my pet has their teeth cleaned?

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