Puppies are generally born with 28 milk teeth which are replaced by 42 permanent teeth by the time they are an adult dog. Dogs are carnivores so their teeth are highly evolved to help them to hunt, kill and eat prey. They are also an aid to self-defence and a tool for grooming. The small incisors at the front of their mouth grip their prey while the sharp canines (the fangs!) kill it. Inside their mouth, dogs have sharp, serrated pre-molar teeth to cut food up into chunks that they can swallow whole and four molars to crush bone or plant material. Dogs can only move their jaws up and down so they can’t chew food in the way that we can.
Research shows that ‘periodontal disease’ – a collective term for several inflammatory conditions in the mouth – occurs in 80% of dogs by the time they are three years old*. You may not even be aware that anything is wrong because the symptoms can be hard to detect, but as well as causing painful damage inside a dog’s mouth, if left untreated, the bacteria involved can go on to affect other parts of their body. This means looking after your dog’s mouth should be an important part of your preventative health regime. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to help maintain your dog’s oral health and in so doing, save them from potential discomfort and pain. To find out more, ask your vet or vet nurse (or this could be visit a website if it’s for a practice).
* American Veterinary Dental Association research