At a few months of age, puppies should start to lose their baby teeth to make room for their permanent ones. But if they haven’t come out yet, should you be concerned? Read on to know when you need to seek your veterinarian’s intervention.
Puppy Teeth Not Falling Out
Why hasn’t your puppy’s teeth fallen out yet? Your puppy’s teeth may not have fallen out because they’re not ready to yet. It could also be because your puppy has retained their puppy teeth. If your puppy appears to have a double row of teeth anywhere in their mouth, this is a sign that they have retained some of their puppy teeth.
To know what is really going on you need to gently look in your dog’s mouth. You want to be careful as you look. The goal should always be to make your handling a positive experience for your puppy. This is vital for being able to handle them and do teeth checks throughout their lives.
Most puppies will feel frustrated if you hold them still and pry open their mouth. And if there are retained puppy teeth in their mouth, this could also be painful.
Here is how you can help them feel more comfortable with this part of the process:
- Lightly touch the side of the mouth, praise and treat. If the puppy is ok with this, move on to step two. If they back away from the finger, they are not ready to move on.
- Gently lift their lip for just a second, praise and treat. Again, let the puppy tell you when they are ready to move on.
- Start to increase the amount of time you lift the lip.
- Start to rub the gums.
It’s important that from the first day you get your puppy, you get them used to touching and opening their mouth.
If your puppy has a tough time with step one, it could indicate a bad association with hands at their mouth, but it could also indicate pain.
Are all your puppy’s teeth healthy? Any discoloration could indicate a health issue, or perhaps a tooth has died and is ready to fall out. If so, we have this post that might help: Puppy Teeth Discolored: Brown, Yellow, Black
Puppy teeth chart – when do they fall out?
In general, the first tooth will fall out around 3-4 months of age. More will follow until about 6-months of age. Remember these general periods of time are a guide only, and may vary.
Here is a chart with the estimated time you should see your puppy’s teeth fall out:
Puppies have 28 puppy teeth in total that they need to lose to make room for all 42 of their adult teeth.
What causes retained puppy teeth?
Sometimes the teething process does not go as nature intended it to. A puppy tooth is considered retained if it stays in place once an adult too has started to break through the gum.
Sometimes this issue is hereditary. While it can be seen in any breed or mix, it is more often seen in small and brachycephalic breeds (dogs with flatter faces like a Boxer)
Typically, the roots of a puppy tooth are absorbed by the gums. This makes it easy for the starter tooth to push out as the adult tooth erupts.
Sometimes, the roots are not fully absorbed, so they are more likely to stay in place.
Alternatively, sometimes the path of the adult tooth fails to push out what is left of the baby tooth.
This can create a whole host of issues if left unassisted. Included misalignment of teeth, and improper jaw alignment. Bacteria can trap more readily in between the overlapping teeth, which increases the risk for weakened enamel and periodontal disease.
Some symptoms of retained puppy teeth include:
- Bad breath
- Swollen, bleeding gums
- Difficulty eating
- Multiple teeth that look like rows
If you believe that your dog has retained puppy teeth, it is important to remedy the situation for their long-term health. These long-term problems can include abnormal jawbone growth as well as enamel deterioration.
If you see that your puppy has retained milk teeth, then be sure to visit your veterinarian to discuss removing them. This way your veterinarian can ensure that all parts of the tooth and root are removed, which prevents issues from popping up later.
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Do puppies lose their canine teeth?
Canine teeth are usually the second group of teeth to fall out, around 5-months of age. Once their baby canines fall out, the adult canine teeth are not far behind. Upper canine teeth are the most common retained puppy teeth, followed by the lower set.
How to help puppy teeth fall out
It’s best not to do anything to help your puppy’s teeth fall out.
If you see a wiggly tooth, you may be tempted to pull it out (like most of us did as children!). There are a few reasons you don’t want to do this:
- It could hurt, and you do not want to create an association between your hand in your dog’s mouth with pain. This will make future teeth maintenance or mouth checks much more difficult and stressful for both you and your dog.
- If the root is not fully dissolved, the tooth could break at the root. This opens your puppy up for pain and even infection.
If you’re concerned that your puppy might swallow that wiggly tooth once it falls out, there is no need for concern. Their baby teeth are small, so they should pass through their system with no problem.
When puppies’ teeth their chewing will naturally increase. So you can supply a variety of chew toys. You do want to make sure that the toys you provide are soft rubber or cloth.
Chewing on hard surfaces puts your puppy at risk for breaking their baby teeth at the root, which we have already mentioned can cause infection.
Chewing is very soothing to mouthing puppies. Many times, if we do not find them things to chew on, they will choose their own chew toy (like the dining room table legs!)
Just like with human babies, cold surfaces will numb the pain, bringing them relief. Chilling their chew toys or purchasing freezable dog chew toys is a must.
Offering them a variety of textures may help you determine what brings your dog the most relief. Here are some good choices:
- A fillable toy, such as our Puppy Puzzle Toy is a great place to start. The rubber is soft enough to give when the teeth hit it, making those teeth less likely to break. Fill the cavities with canned dog food, peanut butter or baby food (make sure there are no onions in the baby food) and freeze it.
- Soak a washcloth in sodium free chicken or beef broth and freeze it. This gives your dog some flavor while soothing his gums.
- Frozen Mini bagels (plain only).
- Cold carrots or frozen strawberries.
If it is your first time giving any of the above foods, start with a small amount to ensure it does not create any digestive upset.
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Which puppy teeth fall out first?
Your puppy’s incisors are usually the first teeth they will lose, around 3-4 months of age.
These are the tiny teeth at the front of the mouth, with six on top, and six on the bottom.
A small amount of blood along the gums is normal for a puppy that has lost teeth. In fact, if you notice your puppy’s chew treats have a slight amount of blood on them, it may be a sign they are losing teeth!
If you have a poodle, you may wish to read our post Poodle Puppy Teething Stages: Timeline and Guide
While some puppies will vary slightly from the general times given in this article, it’s important to remember to check your dog’s mouth to make sure their teeth are developing correctly.
Your dog’s dental health affects their overall health. Bacteria in the mouth can enter your dog’s bloodstream and influence other organs in the body. This is important to remember as your puppy loses teeth, especially if they have retained baby teeth which create extra pockets for this bacteria to grow.
If you are worried about your puppy not losing teeth yet it is important to: check the chart above. If your puppy hasn’t reached these ages yet, stock up on chew toys! If your puppy has passed these milestone months, check their mouth. And then report your findings to your veterinarian to help you plan for your dog’s dental health.
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