Jack Russell Terrier Teeth Guide (Jack Russell Dental FAQ’s)

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Jack Russell Terriers are lively, energetic dogs that bring immense joy to their owners. However, like all breeds, proper dental care is essential for their health and happiness.

As a Jack Russell parent, you likely have questions about your dog’s teeth – from basic tooth counts to signs of dental disease.

This article will provide a comprehensive teeth guide for Jack Russells, answering the most frequently asked questions about their dental needs and oral health.

We’ll cover everything from puppy teething to tooth brushing best practices, dental treat recommendations and more.

With the right information, you can help your feisty terrier maintain healthy teeth and gums for years to come.

Read on for expert veterinary advice to support your Jack Russell’s dental health and keep their smile shining bright.

Jack Russell Terrier Teeth Guide (Jack Russell Dental FAQ's)

How Many Teeth Do Jack Russells Have?

Like all puppies, Jack Russell Terriers start with 28 deciduous “baby” teeth that begin erupting at 3-4 weeks of age. The dental formula for puppy teeth is:

2(I3/3 C1/1 P3/3) = 28

This consists of 3 pairs of incisors on top and bottom, 2 canines on top and bottom, and 3 pairs of premolars on top and bottom. No molars are present.

As adults, Jack Russells have 42 permanent teeth, which is typical for dogs. Their full adult dental formula is:

2(I3/3 C1/1 P4/4 M2/3) = 42

This includes 3 pairs of incisors, 1 pair of canines, 4 pairs of premolars, 2 molars on top and 3 molars on bottom.

All of a Jack Russell’s puppy teeth are replaced by permanent adult teeth by 6-7 months of age. Proper tooth number, size, and alignment are important for biting, chewing, and carrying abilities.

When Do Jack Russells Lose Their Baby Teeth?

Jack Russell Terriers start losing their puppy teeth around 3.5-4 months of age as part of the teething process. The permanent adult teeth start pushing out the smaller deciduous teeth during this time.

Incisors and canines are generally replaced by 12-16 weeks of age. The premolars finish erupting by 16-20 weeks of age. Finally, the adult molars finish coming in by 18-24 weeks of age.

By the time a Jack Russell Terrier is 6-7 months old, all of its puppy teeth should have been replaced by stronger permanent teeth. The full set of 42 adult teeth are typically finished erupting by this adolescent age.

Monitoring your Jack Russell’s teething schedule can help alert you to any potential dental issues. Contact your veterinarian if you notice retained puppy teeth or other eruption problems during this transitional teething phase.

Why is My Adult Jack Russell Losing His Teeth?

It’s normal for Jack Russells to lose some teeth as senior adults, typically due to periodontal disease. This gum infection is caused by plaque buildup that hardens into tartar on the tooth surface.

As tartar accumulates below the gumline, it can damage the periodontal ligaments and jaw bone that support the teeth. This causes gingivitis and loosening of the roots. Eventually, teeth become loose and fall out or require extraction.

Periodontal disease generally develops slowly over years in dogs. Lack of preventive dental care makes plaque and tartar accumulation worse. Genetics and some medical conditions may also influence a dog’s risk.

Other potential reasons an adult Jack Russell might lose teeth include:

  • Injuries fracturing teeth
  • Tooth decay
  • Infections damaging the tooth or roots
  • Gum recession exposing vulnerable roots
  • Malocclusion misaligning teeth

No matter the cause, any lost or damaged teeth should be promptly examined by your veterinarian. They can assess the underlying issue and recommend appropriate treatment.

How Often Should I Brush My Jack Russell’s Teeth?

Regular tooth brushing is important for preventing plaque buildup and keeping your Jack Russell’s teeth clean. Veterinarians generally recommend brushing your dog’s teeth daily if possible.

Realistically, a minimum brushing routine should be 2-3 times per week for basic dental care. Daily brushing is ideal, but three times a week can help reduce tartar buildup and risk of periodontal disease.

It’s best to start getting puppies accustomed to toothbrushing early. Introduce it slowly with positive reinforcement and lots of praise. Using a finger brush or gauze wrapped around your finger can help get young Jack Russells comfortable with the process.

Invest in a recommended dog toothpaste and soft-bristled brush. Take it slow, brushing in short 10-15 second sessions and gradually increase over time. Make it a regular part of your Jack Russell’s routine for optimal dental health.

Consult your veterinarian for tailored advice on establishing an effective tooth brushing regimen. With patience and the right technique, you can help keep your terrier’s teeth sparkling clean.

What is Periodontal Disease in Jack Russells?

Periodontal disease in dogs refers to inflammation and infection of the periodontium – the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. This includes the gums, periodontal ligaments, and jaw bone structures. Jack Russell Terriers are prone to developing periodontal disease over time if preventive dental care is inadequate.

Periodontal disease progresses in stages. It starts as gingivitis – inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria, saliva, and food particles on the tooth surface.

As plaque accumulates, it mineralizes into tartar that adheres below the gumline. The bacteria in tartar trigger an inflammatory immune response in the gums, causing swollen, reddened gums – characteristic of gingivitis.

If left untreated, the infection spreads deeper. It damages the periodontal ligaments and jaw bone anchoring the teeth in place. As these tissues are destroyed, teeth become loose and eventually fall out or require extraction.

Contributing factors include the Jack Russell’s small mouth, crowded teeth, high-carb diets, and genetics. Daily brushing, dental chews, and professional cleanings help prevent periodontal infections.

How Much Does Professional Teeth Cleaning for Dogs Cost?

Professional teeth cleaning by a general veterinary professional can range from $200 to $900. This involves dental scaling but may or may not include extractions or more advanced procedures.

A certified professional veterinary dentist can charge up to $4,000 or more depending on the specific procedures involved. Things like dental fillings, complex extractions, or root canals will increase the cost.

A major factor in the price is the required general anesthesia for procedures like tooth extractions. The medications and monitoring involved with safely sedating a dog add to the expense.

Overall, owners can expect to spend anywhere from $200 up to $4,000 or more for professional veterinary dental cleanings for their Jack Russell Terrier depending on the extent of tartar buildup and necessary treatment. Regular cleanings help prevent worsening dental disease.

Why Does My Jack Russell Grind His Teeth?

Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, can occur in Jack Russell Terriers for a variety of reasons. Possible causes include:

  • Dental pain or disease – Issues like gingivitis, fractured teeth, or tooth root inflammation can prompt teeth grinding. It may indicate oral cavity discomfort.
  • Malocclusion – Misaligned bite or crooked teeth can lead to abnormal teeth grinding as well.
  • Stress or anxiety – Dogs may sometimes grind their teeth when stressed or anxious, similar to nervous nail biting in people.
  • Neurological disorder – In rare cases, abnormal teeth grinding may signal an underlying neurological condition affecting the jaw muscles.

If your Jack Russell is suddenly grinding his teeth frequently, schedule a veterinary dental exam. Your vet can check for fractured teeth, gum infection, or other problems that may be causing discomfort and prompting this behavior.

Treatment will depend on the underlying trigger. Your vet may prescribe pain medication or antibiotics for a dental infection. In some cases, teeth straightening or extraction may be recommended for misaligned or damaged teeth causing bruxism.

What Can I Give My Jack Russell for Tooth Pain Relief?

If your Jack Russell Terrier is showing signs of tooth pain like teeth grinding or trouble eating, consult your veterinarian for an exam. Do not give any medications without your vet’s guidance.

Your vet may prescribe a dog-safe pain reliever after diagnosing the source of discomfort. Common options include:

  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) – Drugs like carprofen or meloxicam reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Opioids – Medications like tramadol or hydrocodone may be prescribed for short-term moderate to severe dental pain relief when needed.

Your vet will provide dosage instructions and warn about potential side effects. Never give human over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, as these are toxic to dogs.

For mild pain, your vet may recommend rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash. Applying cold compresses to the muzzle area may also help soothe mild gum discomfort or swelling in some cases.

Relieving any underlying infection or dental disease is crucial for resolving tooth pain in Jack Russells. Follow your veterinarian’s treatment recommendations to properly address the cause and keep your terrier comfortable.

My Jack Russell Lost a Tooth While Playing. What Should I Do?

If your Jack Russell loses a tooth while playing, it’s important to have your veterinarian examine them as soon as possible. Fragments left in the socket can cause infection.

Your vet will likely want to extract any remaining tooth roots and clean the socket to prevent abscess. They may prescribe a course of antibiotics to prevent infection as well.

If the tooth is intact but just loose, your vet may try to save it with a root canal procedure. This involves deep cleaning and disinfecting inside the tooth root, then sealing it with a filling material. However, extraction is sometimes still required if the tooth is damaged.

To help prevent tooth fractures and injuries, avoid letting your Jack Russell play with hard chew toys they can bite into forcefully. Supervise play and take away chews once they become small enough to swallow.

Promptly seeking veterinary dental care can help protect your terrier’s mouth health when accidents do occur.

Why Does My Jack Russell Lick Other Dogs’ Teeth?

Licking another dog’s teeth is typically a social behavior for Jack Russells. According to behaviorists, it can signify:

  • Affection – Just like mutual grooming, a quick lick to another dog’s teeth may express friendliness and bond formation.
  • Respect/submission – A submissive Jack Russell may lick the teeth of a more dominant dog to communicate acquiescence and “no threat” intentions within the social group.
  • Food sharing – Mother dogs will lick puppies’ mouths to share food. Similarly, dogs licking each other’s mouths and teeth may attempt to get leftover food scraps or scents.
  • Curiosity – Investigative licking allows dogs to pick up chemical cues and information from the mouth area. Jack Russells specifically have very inquisitive tendencies.

As long as the behavior is welcomed by the other dog, there is no harm in this type of social tooth licking. It helps strengthenbonds through positive interactions.

However, intervene if the licking becomes excessive or irritates the other dog. Redirect your Jack Russell’s attention to more appropriate chew toys in that case. Monitor play to ensure proper doggie manners.

What is the Best Toothpaste for Jack Russells?

Petsmile Professional Pet Brushing Kit
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When selecting toothpaste for your Jack Russell, veterinarians recommend choosing a product formulated specifically for dogs and accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).

Human toothpastes are not safe for dogs to swallow. Always use a pet-specific enzymatic toothpaste made to reduce plaque and freshen doggy breath.

Look for the VOHC seal when shopping for dog toothpaste. VOHC establishes standards for animal oral hygiene products and tests their efficacy. Their approval helps ensure the toothpaste will safely and effectively clean your Jack Russell’s teeth.

Poultry-flavored toothpastes are ideal, since most dogs accept and enjoy the taste. It’s also helpful to choose a toothpaste in gel form, as this sticks to the teeth better than a watery paste.

When used regularly along with brushing, a VOHC-approved enzymatic dog toothpaste like Petsmile can help reduce plaque buildup and keep your Jack Russell’s smile healthy. Consult your vet for tailored recommendations.

What is the Best Dog Food for Oral Care?

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, Oral Care
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When it comes to supporting your Jack Russell Terrier’s dental health through diet, veterinarians recommend choosing a specialized veterinary oral care food.

These prescription dental diets are formulated to mechanically scrub away plaque and reduce tartar buildup as the kibble is chewed. The textured kibble also helps freshen doggy breath.

Look for a veterinary oral care food designed by veterinary nutritionists that carries the VOHC seal of acceptance. This indicates it meets standards for plaque and tartar control in dogs.

For example, Hill’s Prescription Diet is a scientifically formulated therapeutic food to aid in cleaning your dog’s teeth and freshening breath. It features textured kibble that works like a toothbrush as your Jack Russell chews.

Discuss the best dental food for your Jack Russell with your vet. A VOHC-approved prescription diet along with brushing and professional cleanings can optimize your terrier’s oral health.

What are the Best Dental Treats for Jack Russells?

GREENIES Grain Free Regular Natural Dog Dental Care Chews
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Dental treats can help clean your Jack Russell’s teeth between brushings, if chosen wisely. Look for these features when selecting chews:

  • VOHC Seal – The Veterinary Oral Health Council seal identifies treats scientifically proven to reduce tartar and plaque. This ensures therapeutic benefit for your Jack Russell’s teeth.
  • Appropriate Size – Treats should be sized for your dog’s jaw to avoid choking risks. Avoid treats that can be swallowed whole.
  • Texture – Rubbery, ridged, or textured chews are more effective at mechanically removing plaque and tartar as the dog gnaws and chews.
  • Limited Ingredients – Choose treats without artificial ingredients and fillers that may irritate your Jack Russell’s stomach.
  • Natural – Natural breath freshening ingredients like parsley, mint, or turmeric are beneficial additions to dental treats.

An example of a suitable VOHC-accepted dental chew is Greenies Treats, which have natural ingredients and texture to clean teeth and freshen breath as your Jack Russell chews. Always supervise treat time to ensure safety.

How Can I Whiten My Jack Russell’s Teeth?

TropiClean Fresh Breath Advanced Whitening Dog Oral Care Water Additive
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Keeping your Jack Russell’s teeth naturally white requires diligent oral care:

  • Brushing – Regular brushing with a dog-safe toothpaste helps remove surface stains.
  • Dental diet – Feeding a VOHC-accepted dry food helps reduce plaque buildup that can discolor teeth.
  • Chews – Providing rubbery, textured dental chews contributes to mechanical cleaning.
  • Professional cleaning – Veterinary dental scaling periodically removes hardened tartar that causes yellowing.

You can also try using an additive like Dental Fresh water additive. This liquid is formulated to safely help remove stains when added to your dog’s drinking water daily.

Beware of other dog tooth whitening products making questionable claims. Avoid anything highly abrasive that could damage tooth enamel. Consult your vet before trying supplemental dental aids to whiten your Jack Russell’s teeth safely and effectively.

The combination of brushing, dental diet, chews, and professional cleanings is best for protecting your terrier’s smile and naturally reducing stains over time. Patience and consistency with oral care is key.

How Can I Get Rid of Bad Dog Breath?

Bluestem Pet Water Additive Oral Care
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Persistent bad breath, or halitosis, in your Jack Russell is not normal and typically signals an underlying oral health issue. Here are some tips to help control it:

  • Brushing – Daily tooth brushing removes bacteria causing odors. Use dog-safe toothpaste.
  • Dental treats – Give chews formulated to combat bad breath like Greenies breath freshening treats.
  • Water additives – Additives like Dental Fresh liquid can safely freshen breath when added to drinking water.
  • Professional cleaning – Veterinary dental cleanings remove tartar and plaque causing foul odors.
  • Oral exam – Have your vet examine your dog’s mouth to diagnose and treat any dental disease present.
  • Diet change – Switch to a VOHC-approved dental food to reduce plaque buildup.
  • Antiseptic rinses – Your vet may prescribe antiseptic rinses to use periodically to freshen the mouth.

The most important step is determining and addressing the underlying cause of odor with your veterinarian. With consistent oral hygiene and proper treatment of any dental disease, you can get rid of unpleasant doggy breath and keep your Jack Russell’s mouth fresh.


Jack Russell Terriers are known for keeping their owners on their toes with their energetic antics and lively personalities. As a responsible pet parent, it’s important to also stay on top of their dental health. Proper care of your Jack Russell’s teeth will help avoid costly health problems down the road.

This dental guide covers the key areas of caring for your terrier’s smile. Monitoring your puppy’s teething schedule sets them up for good long-term dental health.

Establishing regular brushing and using veterinarian-recommended toothpastes, treats and diets helps prevent plaque buildup and periodontal disease.

Knowing the signs of dental problems will help you seek veterinary care early when needed.

With diligent daily home care and professional cleanings you can keep you Jack Russell’s teeth strong and healthy for years of fun and play.

Your lively companion depends on you for their complete care – be sure to include their oral health in that. With the information provided here, you can confidently take charge of your Jack Russell’s dental needs for optimal wellbeing.

Dr. Shahzaib Wahid DVM

Dr. Shahzaib Wahid, DVM, currently works an Associate Veterinarian at an animal clinic in Islamabad, Pakistan. As an experienced veterinarian, Dr. Wahid has a passion for providing advice and helping pet owners.

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