Puppies begin growing teeth, depending on the breed, by around 3 weeks of age and have all 28 deciduous, or temporary, teeth by 8 weeks old. The permanent teeth begin erupting through the gums at around 3 months of age and most are in by 6 to 8 months old, although some toy breeds take longer. Most adult breeds have 42 teeth, 20 on top and 22 on the bottom. However, some breeds have less and others have more. Puppy teeth problems can be with temporary teeth, permanent teeth or both. The causes of tooth problems include genetics, poor nutrition, injuries or abnormal growth.
Normal teething, both temporary and adult, is painful. A puppy chews to relieve the pressure on the gums and it helps the teething process. It is normal for a puppy to swallow deciduous teeth that fall out. The incisors, canines and premolars are typically the first teeth to erupt in both sets of teeth. According to the website PetEducation, providing a puppy with appropriate chewing toys will help normal teething problems. Puppy teeth are fragile and may break. Pull or cap any broken tooth, puppy or adult, to prevent infection and pain.
Sometimes a baby tooth does not come out as a permanent tooth grows in. Misdirected canine syndrome causes abnormal positioning of the new tooth, according to Vetinfo. According to Pet Orthodontics, chewing with poorly aligned teeth helps to trap food between teeth and increase decay. Veterinarians can remove retained teeth to prevent problems.
Missing and extra teeth are generally genetic problems. Missing teeth is a common problem in many breeds including hairless dogs, such as the xoloitzcuintli and Chinese crested, collies and Doberman pincers. Missing teeth may cause tooth alignment to shift. Missing teeth are generally only a medical problem if the tooth is under the gum and not erupting. A veterinarian can determine if the tooth is in the jaw. Extra teeth are common in some breeds, such as greyhounds and spaniels. Extra teeth can cause crowding leading to trapped food and tooth decay. The veterinarian can pull extra teeth to prevent problems.
An overbite, also called parrot mouth, occurs when the dog's mouth is closed and the upper teeth stick out further than the bottom teeth. Often this problem corrects before the puppy is 10 months old. If it does not correct, having it fixed can prevent damage to the mouth, according to The Dog Health Guide.
Underbites--ower teeth that jut past the upper teeth when the mouth is closed--are common or normal for some breeds including boxers, shih tzus and bullie breeds such as the English bulldog. With show dogs, where it is not part of the breed standard, an underbite can be a problem. However, an underbite generally does not cause medical issues unless it is so severe it causes chewing problems.
According to The Dog Health Guide, the jaw growth rate can create problems. Faster growing top jaw may result in lower teeth having abnormal bite alignment. One side of the jaw growing to fast causes wry bite, an alignment that may create chewing problems. Prevention of problems may require dental corrections.
Checking the puppy's teeth regularly for problems helps prevent adult tooth issues. Early teeth examinations and home cleaning gets a puppy used to dental care.