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It's no surprise your puppy wants to chew! If you could get your pup to hold still long enough to count his deciduous (baby) teeth, you would find a total of 28. The first of these teeth—tiny, mid-mouth incisors on both top and bottom—fall out between three and four months of age. Your puppy loses his remaining baby teeth over the next four to five months.

Next, permanent (adult) teeth grow in. Most puppies will have 42 adult teeth, but in a few pups the smaller premolars are absent. Rest assured, this does not affect the ability to chew, feed or grow.

During this period of tooth loss and replacement, you may spot small traces of blood on chew toys. This is normal. Your puppy harmlessly swallows most of his teeth. It is the fortunate owner who finds a tooth to be saved for the Tooth Fairy!

Good, balanced nutrition is crucial during this period of tooth loss and growth in the first year of your puppy's life. Imbalances in minerals and vitamins can weaken teeth and lead to bone loss in the mouth. Always feed the appropriate puppy food for the size of your puppy to ensure a healthy and happy life together. For example, puppies who will weigh 55 pounds or more at maturity will require a large breed puppy formula.

After six months of age, all of your dog's permanent teeth are in place. We recommend brushing them at least two to three times a week to prevent build-up of tartar, plaque and gingivitis. At your dog's yearly physical, your veterinarian will examine the teeth and discuss if more aggressive therapy is required. This may include scaling of the teeth by hand, or prescribing rinses or special diets for your dog. Later in life, your dog may even need to be anesthetized to have a complete cleaning of the teeth.

A lifetime of good dental care is just as important for your dog as it is for you.