How many teeth do dogs have?

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Dogs start out with 28 baby teeth, but by around age six months, they have 42 permanent teeth.

Usually, baby teeth will come out on their own as the puppy plays. If they don’t come out on their own, and the permanent ones grow under them, that can cause a problem, such as increased tartar and gum irritation. Sometimes, you’ll actually see two sets of teeth and, if so, discuss a treatment plan with your veterinarian immediately.

It’s best to start dental care when your dog is very young. Although gum disease is a little more common in an older dog, get her used to brushing early on—it’ll make it easier for the both of you. Most veterinarians are happy to provide brushing lessons, and many carry brushes and toothpaste specifically for dogs and cats. (NOTE: Never use human toothpaste on your pet!) Brushing can extend the life and health of your pet.

Once your dog is over three years of age, it would be wise to schedule a dental check up with your veterinarian. If a dental cleaning is necessary, it is advisable to do pre-anesthesia blood work to make sure your pet does not have any underlying problems, such as heart, liver or kidneys. Many pets with bad teeth will be put on an antibiotic a few days prior to the dental to calm any infection and reduce possibility of complications.

The cleaning is done under anesthesia and it is similar to a human dental cleaning and includes tartar removal; checking for cavities; gingival (gum) pockets; loose teeth;any growths on the gums or palate, removal of diseased teeth, and finally, polishing. The polishing is to smooth the tooth after tartar removal, as the tartar pits the tooth. A smooth tooth will not encourage tartar formation as easily as a roughened tooth.

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