Puppies are born without teeth, allowing them to nurse without causing pain to their mother. During their first weeks of life, they develop temporary teeth, known as milk teeth or deciduous teeth. As puppies mature, they lose these temporary teeth, allowing permanent adult teeth to take their place. Sometimes, however, the temporary teeth do not fall out as quickly as the permanent teeth grow in and it appears as if they have double milk fangs. If the baby teeth don't fall out, consult your veterinarian.
Teeth begin to emerge in puppies during their first three weeks. As they approach weaning age, puppies develop 28 temporary teeth, including their four milk fangs. These tiny teeth are very sharp, because puppies were designed to tear, not grind or crush their food. Although puppies have incisors, canines (fangs) and premolars, they lack molars at this stage.
Because puppies were programmed to develop in a certain way before the invention of kibble, they develop milk fangs to hold onto meat and to tear it. The milk fangs and the other teeth are usually lost and replaced in a certain order. The smallest teeth, the incisors in the front of the mouth, go first. The fangs usually are lost next, followed by the premolars at the side of the mouth. At times, puppies will retain some of these teeth as the adult teeth grow in because the milk teeth roots have not dissolved yet.
Puppies can start teething as early as 3 months of age and may continue until they are 8 or 9 months old. Puppies from small breeds and their mixes may take longer to develop adult teeth than puppies of large breeds do. During the teething period, the fangs are the teeth most likely to be crowded and retained, causing the appearance of double milk fangs. These fangs, like any milk teeth retained after the corresponding adult teeth erupt, may cause the adult teeth to grow in crooked. If enough milk teeth stay in or if they stay in long enough, they may cause the bite to develop improperly. Consult your veterinarian if this happens.
Preventing Retained Double Milk Fangs
Because the new teeth push the older teeth out, double milk fangs are almost inevitable for short periods during every puppy’s life. However, puppies can benefit from recreational chewing when they are teething. Recreational chewing loosens teeth being shed and assists new teeth coming in. Chewing causes the milk teeth to be shed more quickly, but will help loosen the fangs, which are used for grasping and pulling.
The best toy for puppies to chew on while teething should be soft but firm, such as those made of soft rubber. Soft rubber toys shaped like cones can be stuffed with snack foods like peanut butter or canned dog food and frozen. Puppies also enjoy chewing on frozen washcloths or dishcloths that have been dipped in water or chamomile tea to reduce the discomfort they feel while their milk teeth are loosening and falling out. Very hard chew toys and very soft chew toys should be avoided, both during teething and afterward. Such toys promote excessive or premature wear of tooth enamel, especially of the new teeth.
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