Pet Dental Health Month: Introduction & Overview

Dental health is an important and often overlooked component of your pet’s health and well-being. Every Friday this month, I’ll be posting all about how you can help keep your pet’s chompers squeaky clean and in tip-top shape.

Canine Dental Anatomy

Dogs have 28 deciduous (baby) teeth, and 42 adult teeth.
They have 4 distinct types of teeth (1):
  • Incisors
    • Dogs have 12 incisors. 6 on the top of the mouth & 6 on the bottom.
  • Canines
    • Dogs have 4 canine teeth, one per side on the top & bottom of the mouth.
    • The lower canines keep the tongue in place.
  • Premolars
    • Dogs have 16 premolars. 8 premolars in the upper jaw and 8 in the lower jaw.
  • Molars
    • Dogs have 10 molars. 4 on the top and 6 on the bottom.
Like humans, dogs are born toothless. Unlike people, however, they will typically start teething around 2 weeks of age, and will typically have their full set of adult teeth by the time your pup is 7-8 months old they should have all 42 of their adult teeth.

Feline Dental Anatomy

Cats have 26 deciduous (baby) teeth and 30 adult teeth (2).
They also have 4 distinct types of teeth, though the number and makeup vary from those of the dog (3) :
  • Incisors
    • Cats have 12 incisors. 6 on the top of the mouth & 6 on the bottom of the mouth.
    • The lower canines keep the tongue in place.
  • Canines
    • Cats have 4 canine teeth, one per side on the top & bottom.
  • Premolars
    • Cats have 10 premolars. 6 premolars in the upper jaw and 4 in the lower jaw.
  • Molars
    • Cats have 4 molars. 2 upper molars, 2 lower molars.
Cats are also born toothless and will begin teething around 2 weeks old. Kittens will have all their adult teeth, except their molars, by 6 months of age. Molars will typically not come in until late kittenhood to early adulthood (2).

Signs of Dental Disease

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association periodontal (gum) disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats and can occur in up 75% of dogs by middle age (4).
Some signs of poor oral hygiene (and possibly the start of gum disease) include:
  •  bad breath
  •  discolouration &/or tartar buildup
  • pain, bleeding or swelling in/around the mouth
  • reduced appetite or refusal of food

Why is Dental Health Important?

Besides the obvious importance of keeping your pet free from oral discomfort, gum disease has actually been linked with endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves), congestive heart failure (5), and kidney disease (6).
*Please note: this information was originally posted as a part of my education series for The Bone & Biscuit Leduc (my store), so if it seems like you’ve seen it before, you probably have. To read the original post, click the photo below.
Have a specific dental health question you want to be answered? Leave it below!
The contents of this blog, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this site (“Content”) are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website!
If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately. Reliance on any information appearing on this website is entirely at your own risk. If you have medical concerns or need advice, please seek out your closest holistic or integrative veterinarian. Not sure where to find one? Check here:
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