Form Follows FUNCTION
BY STEPHANIE HEDGEPATH
CANINE DENTITION: WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?
A dog is born with no teeth in his mouth at all. Just as with human dentition, dogs have two sets of teeth in their lifetime. The first set of 28 deciduous puppy teeth (often called milk teeth because they erupt between 3-6 weeks while the pups are still nursing) does not contain molars as there is no need for them while pups are nursing. (See Figure 1.) These tiny, sharp teeth with a small root are all in place by two months of age and are 28 in number. Normal eruption times for the deciduous teeth are as follows:
• Incisors 4-6 weeks; • Canines 3-5 weeks; • Premolars 5-6 weeks.
Puppy teeth are usually shed easily around four months of age. However, sometimes a pup’s deciduous teeth don’t shed properly, with the most common problem being the retention of a puppy tooth. This causes the permanent tooth to erupt next to the retained puppy tooth, which can cause the permanent tooth to be positioned incorrectly and the puppy tooth to be surgically removed. On occa- sion, a deciduous tooth is retained simply because there is no perma- nent tooth to take its place. This tooth can remain functional for a fairly long time. The permanent teeth begin to erupt at three months of age. As these permanent teeth develop within the jaws, the roots of the deciduous teeth are absorbed by the surrounding tissues and are shed. By six months of age, the deciduous teeth have been replaced by a full set of permanent adult teeth, so “teething” in a pup is gen- erally most common between three and six months of age. Normal eruption times for permanent teeth are as follows:
• Incisors 12-16 weeks; • Canines 12-16 weeks; • Premolars 16-20 weeks; • Molars 20-24 weeks of age.
Figure 1. Deciduous (Puppy) Teeth
74 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JULY 2021
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