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Dental Healthcare for Puppies and Kittens

February 4, 2010

dog incisors crossbite crooked teeth

Crossbite in a mixed breed dog.

Dental Healthcare starts as a Puppy and Kitten

No kidding!  Your precious pup or kitten needs to be assessed right from the start for oral health status.  Some life-long problems can be prevented as young as 8 weeks old!

Checklist for Baby Visits:

  • Occlusion means how the teeth come together when the mouth is closed. Young animals can have overbite (top jaw longer than bottom)underbite (bottom longer than top, like in Bulldogs), crossbite (a mix, see picture), or certain other abnormalities.
    • Surgery at a very young age, before 12 weeks old when the permanent incisors (front teeth) come in, can save your pet from a lifetime of toothaches.
  • Canine Teeth (the biggest “eye” teeth in the four corners of the front of the mouth) must erupt in proper position, or your dog could have pain until expensive corrective oral surgery is performed.
  • Sometimes, the canine tooth on the mandible (bottom jaw) will start coming in on the inside of the baby tooth.  This is called Base Narrow.  This situation will cause the permanent tooth to poke up into the roof of the mouth when your dog grows up.  It is fixed by removing the retained canine teeth at about 5-6 months’ old.

“A tooth is defined as retained when the permanent tooth can just start to be seen budding through the pink gingival lining of the jaw.  Do not wait to remove the deciduous (baby) tooth, or your pet will suffer the consequences,” warns Doc Truli.

  • Missing Teeth: all dogs, except hairless Chinese Crested Dogs and their fluffy Powderpuff relatives, have 28 baby teeth and 42 permanent teeth.  Cats have 26 baby teeth and 30 permanent teeth.

“Dogs have 28 baby teeth and 42 adult teeth.  Cats have 26 baby teeth and 30 adult teeth.”

“Why are Missing teeth a problem?” you’re probably asking yourself!

  • Well, if the tooth is impacted or unerupted, an ever-growing bone cyst, or fluid-filled pocket can form around the tooth out of site inside the jaw.  Over time, it keeps growing and can eat away 100% of the jaw, cause eventual loss of all the teeth and a rubbery, useless jawbone!  So there.  Convinced you should get it checked out? (Unfortunately, not kidding.)
  • A dental x-ray shows if the tooth is hidden in the jaw and if a cyst has started.  Surgery to remove the tooth and/or the cyst results in full recovery.  Obviously the sooner this condition is fixed, the better.
9 Comments leave one →
  1. Greg permalink
    February 27, 2012 5:42 am

    I got a question for you. I have a belgian mallinois puppy. I was playing with a rope and pulled a his inscisor tooth out by an acident. He is 3 1/2 month old. I still see some of the teeth coming out. Was it his baby tooth or his adult one? And if it was his adult, whats my option, do i take him to like a dental vet, and get a artificial tooth? Tanks.

    • March 2, 2012 4:48 pm

      12 weeks= normal time for incisors to come out.
      6 months = normal for molars and canines to come out.
      If you are still in doubt, have a vet check it.

      -Doc Truli

  2. Lorraine permalink
    October 15, 2011 4:01 pm

    my black Labrador born19th June has what you called overbite and one bottom fang is hurting the top outside gum and the other fang has punctured the top of her mouth. they are still baby teeth but i’m worried if her grown up teeth will be worse. the vet did not seem too bothered she asked if she eats and she does (she’s a little piggy) but i don’t think the top of her mouth had a hole in it at that time as i would have seen it! help?! what should i do? apart from pointing it out to the vet?

    • October 15, 2011 4:21 pm

      Well, I mean, what can you do? It’s not like you can pull those teeth yourself!

      Here’s a little info that may help- by 6 months old, the baby teeth should all be out. Certainly, the minute you see the top of a new tooth starting to push through the gums and the baby tooth is still firmly in place, then it is worth the anesthesia to have the baby tooth pulled so the permanent tooth will grow in as straight as possible.

      If your vet is still unconcerned, it could be for several reasons-
      1- there’s no problem (you should listen to your vet)
      2- your vet is not that interested in dentistry (which is not good for your pup’s health)
      3- you are on a tight budget and you tied your vet’s hands by telling them you can’t afford much (in which case, maybe your vet doesn’t want to make you feel bad by giving you impossible, expensive options.)

      If you are still worried, there are board certified vet dentists. There are braces for dogs. There are surgeries to help keep teeth from making holes. By the way, sometimes a tooth will make a smooth, painless niche for itself in the roof of the mouth, and there is not soreness, redness or infection, so will you put your puppy through painful, expensive reconstructive surgery for an essential non-problem?

      Good Luck! There are 40 adult teeth in a dog’s mouth. That’s 40 “situations,” most of which are healthy, some of which may be questionable.

      Probably, going back to your vet for a check-up is the best approach if you are worried. Besides, doesn’t your puppy need that last parvo shot anyway?

      -Doc Truli

      • Lorraine permalink
        October 15, 2011 4:46 pm

        firstly thanks for the quick and informative reply. I’m from Malta Europe and I’ve actually never heard of braces for dogs here in Malta or even a vet just on dentistry. I’ll ask some friends about that!! as for my vet she is (as far as i know a very good vet) here we give them 2 injections a month apart from each other. Lola has had her injections ready for about 2 weeks now. but i do need to take her in again as she is taking some meds as she has like 2 bumps on ether side of her left eye another on her belly and another on her girlie part! so we’r trying to treat them and i’ll be going in on monday. as for the money she’s our baby so whatever has to be done will be done!!

  3. sallie buie permalink
    April 8, 2011 6:55 pm

    when will my Belgian Malinois puppies have his adult teeth? how old will he be?

    • April 10, 2011 9:36 am

      Dear Sallie,

      Most puppies get their adult incisors at 12 weeks old and their adult canines, premolars and molars by 6 months old. Do not do any bite work or tug of war under your pup is a year old.

      Small breed dogs, especially Shih Tzus, Maltese, some Poodles, Chihuahuas and Yorkies are delayed about 2-4 weeks on the incisors.

      Doc Truli

  4. September 9, 2010 4:34 pm

    Thank you for this very important information. Because of you I just took my pup for his first check up, all is well so far with Turbo’ teeth!

    • September 9, 2010 10:00 pm

      First of all–cool site for dog stuff. I like the free bag of treats with an order. You never know which treats will become a dog’s fave!
      I’m going to guess Turbo is either an imaginary dog so you could comment and get a link on VirtuaVet, or, maybe, Turbo is related to those fab gorgeous Great Danes I see there in your banner. So, Riddle me this: is Turbo a Great Dane?

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