Pet Dental Care Starts Early
Did you know that puppies and kittens have a set of baby teeth and a set of adult teeth just like humans? The difference is that most puppy and kitten teeth are fully erupted by the time they are 6 weeks old, and all adult teeth are fully erupted by the time they are 6 months old. Puppies start out with just 28 primary teeth, though as an adult they should have 42. Kittens have just 26 primary teeth and 30 adult teeth. The rapid development of their teeth means we begin to see problems with teeth and occlusion (also known as the bite or jaw alignment) starting in young puppies and kittens.
Some of the more common issues we see with the primary dentition (the baby teeth) are broken or discolored baby teeth, failure of the baby teeth to fall out by 6 months of age, and abnormal occlusion (malocclusion, or a bad bite). There are also other oral conditions that every puppy and kitten should be evaluated for at their first wellness visit.
The most important advice we can give clients with puppies and kittens is to start working with them from the very beginning to introduce daily tooth brushing as part of their normal daily care. By starting early, we can encourage acceptance and prevent periodontal disease from forming. We also have more detailed information in our handouts about common juvenile dental problems such as persistent Baby Teeth, Malocclusions, and Cleft Palate.