Dental Anatomy

Incisors -- Dog

There are four types of teeth in small animals: incisor, canine, premolar, and molar. Nature designed each to serve a special function. Incisors are named first, second and third; or central, intermediate, and lateral, based on their location in the mouth. There should be six incisors in the maxilla (upper jaw) and six in the mandible (lower jaw). Incisor teeth are used for shearing and grooming.

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Normally, the
lower canine
should intersect
the upper lateral
incisor and upper

There are two large canine teeth located in the mandible and two in the maxilla. The canines are designed to grasp and tear with great pressure. Premolar teeth have sharp edges used for shearing. In the dog, there are four premolar teeth on either side of the upper and lower jaws. Dogs have four molars in the upper jaw and six in the lower. Molars have a flat surface used for grinding.

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Normal interdigitation of

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perio4!.JPG (67671 bytes)
Lower first and second molars
effected with periodontal disease

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Cats Lower Jaw # Canines Premolars Molar.bmp (238614 bytes)
Lower canine, third and fourth premolars,
and molar in a cat

The cat has three premolars on each side of the upper jaw identified as second, third, and fourth; and two lower premolars on each side of the lower jaw, called third and fourth. Cats have one upper and lower molar on each side.

The primary or deciduous incisors erupt at one to three weeks of age while the primary canines erupt at three to four weeks. The remaining temporary premolars and molars should emerge by ten weeks. The first premolar and all the molars erupt only as adult teeth. The remaining premolars, canines, and incisors appear in the oral cavity first as primary (temporary, deciduous, or baby) teeth. Secondary (adult) teeth usually appear at four months. Adult incisors appear first followed by canines, premolars, and molars. The complete adult dentition should be present in most breeds by eight months of age.

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Upper third and fourth feline

A tooth is composed of a portion above the gum line called crown and a section below the gum line called the root. Enamel, the hardest mineralized tissue found in the body, covers the crown. Cementum, which is attached to the periodontal ligament, covers the root. Dentin, softer than enamel, makes up the bulk of the tooth. Inside, the pulp is composed of live tissue, that contains nerves, blood vessels and lymphatics.


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Jan Bellows, DVM
All Pets Dental Clinic
17100 Royal Palm Blvd.
Weston, FL 33326
(954) 349-5800