Understanding the stages of puppy teeth can come in handy if you're trying to figure out a puppy's age or if you're simply curious about how long it may take for your dog to grow a full set of permanent chompers. Below is a brief rundown of a pup's dental development as well as a few tips on how you can help ensure that your young pooch grows a healthy set of pearly whites.
Puppies are toothless for the first couple weeks of life. Then, at around 2 - 3 weeks, a pup's first set of milk teeth (technically called "deciduous teeth") start to erupt from the gums. As is the case with teething human infants, pups at this stage will instinctively gnaw on anything (and anyone) they can get their little mouths on. The first teeth to emerge will be the upper and lower incisors (the frontmost teeth), followed by the upper and lower canines (a.k.a. those super cute puppy fangs!) around week 4. The arrival of these sharp canines is about the time when a nursing mother begins to wean her pups off her teats--and who can blame her? A puppy's pre-molars start to emerge sometime between week 3 and 6, but actual molars (those teeth way in the back) don't emerge until they're older. (However, when their molars eventually do erupt, they'll be permanent teeth.) By 6 to 8 weeks, the puppy should have a full set of 28 milk teeth.
Like the leaves of deciduous trees in autumn, deciduous teeth will fall out when Mother Nature sees fit. For puppies, these milk teeth start to fall at around 12 weeks as a result of the puppy's adult teeth working their way up into their permanent positions. The rule for tooth fallout appears to be: first ones in, first ones out. The incisors fall and regrow first, followed by the canines (at around 16 weeks), then the pre-molars (at around 6 months). By the time a puppy's permanent pre-molars are in, he will have shed all of his deciduous teeth for a set of 28 permanent teeth. However, the puppy's dental development is far from finished! The pooch will eventually grow a complete set of 42 adult teeth by 8 months of age. That's 10 more teeth than the average adult human has!
Before you buy your puppy any chew toys or treats, always do some research to make sure that the product is age and size appropriate. To help relieve teething pain for your pup, you can put a clean wet washcloth in the freezer and offer it to him as a pain-numbing chew toy. Alternatively, you may offer your pup a piece of frozen apple or carrot--but make sure that it's not small enough to be a choking hazard, and always supervise the gnawing session. When your pup is between 8 - 12 weeks of age, it's a good idea to visit the vet to make sure that his baby teeth are properly falling out to make room for the adult teeth. Sometimes, extractions are required for stubborn milk teeth that overstay their welcome and get in the way of adult tooth growth, which can then cause teeth misalignment. Why is this bad? Misalignment often leads to difficult teeth cleaning and periodontal disease. Also, if your puppy is in the tooth fallout stage, don't be alarmed if you can't find any fallen baby teeth in your puppy's play or feeding area. In all likelihood, he's swallowed them--but don't worry! Swallowing milk teeth is a perfectly natural occurrence in the animal world.
By Maya M.