If you have ever had the privilege to look inside a cat’s mouth you will see the cutest bunch of teeth you have ever seen. Every time I see my cat Owlie’s teeth it looks like she has millions of little teeth in there. Being the curious person I am I just had to find out how many teeth do cats have.
How many teeth do cats have? Cats have two sets of teeth, as in humans. In kittens, there are 26 milk teeth, also called primary, baby, or deciduous teeth. In contrast, adult cats have 30 permanent teeth.
Similar to us, Cat’s milk or deciduous teeth erupt when she is 2-3 weeks old.
Classification Of Cat’s Deciduous Teeth:
- 12 Incisors
- 10 Premolars
- 4 Canines
Permanent teeth in cats begin to erupt at 11-12 weeks of age.
Classification Of Cat’s 30 Permanent Teeth:
- 12 Incisors
- 4 Canines
- 4 Molar
- 10 Premolars
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What Is The Function Of Cats Teeth?
Cats have six front teeth at the top jaw and six front teeth at the bottom. These front teeth on both jaws called incisors. And according to their position in Cat’s mouth, they are termed as the middle, intermediate, and lateral teeth.
Although these teeth (Incisors) are tiny, they are still useful for cats! Cats usually use incisors for grooming and shearing purpose. In the wild, cats use their incisors to capture prey. At the same time, canine teeth (or commonly known as “fangs”) do all the challenging work. Incisors are only for carrying and capturing.
If we talk about cat teeth arrangement in Cat’s mouth, then Incisors come first, followed by canine teeth, premolars, and molars.
A feline dental specialist Dr Alexander Reiter from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia says that the “The crown like the shape of cats’ teeth reflects the work of a true carnivore”. Domestic Cat’s teeth are famous for cutting and tearing their prey like a wild cat.
Canine teeth are designed to puncture the prey’s skin while molars and premolars help in chewing and refining the food. This means that the Cat’s bite really hurts.
Dr Reiter added that some cats usually use their incisors to chew their claws and remove slack pieces of their nails and “scratch” itches with them.
Understanding Cat’s Milk Teeth:
Kittens are born without any teeth. As discussed above, these thin milk teeth, begin to erupt from the gums at about three weeks of age and generally erupt entirely at the age of 6 to 8 weeks.
Milk teeth erupt from the area under the gum line. The incisors appear first, followed by the canine teeth or “fangs” and then premolars (the teeth behind the canine teeth). Cats that have milk teeth do not have any molars.
When Do Kittens Teeth Fall Out?
Temporary kittens’ teeth begin to fall out by about 11 weeks of age. During this time, you may find small teeth on the floor or in your kitten’s food bowl, although most kittens swallow their teeth while eating, so you don’t see anything. You may also observe a small amount of bleeding from the mouth. This is normal.
Can You Brush A Kittens Teeth?
A healthy mouth depends on healthy teeth. The best time to brush a kitten’s teeth is when you bring them home before the toothache starts. It is recommended that you take a break from brushing during short periods of time when your kitten’s teeth are coming out, and permanent teeth are erupting.
Your veterinary healthcare team can help you determine the best products and practices for your kitten’s dental care.
What To Expect When My Kitten Is Teething
Teething can be a time of trouble, and your kitten may sneeze or feel hesitant to eat at mealtimes, and maybe irritable due to a painful and tender mouth.
Almost all kittens will want to chew while they are erupting their teeth. It would be greatest if you did everything you can to guide your kitten to chew acceptable things/objects.
Avoid giving your kitten sharp objects that could damage their teeth.
You may also notice a characteristic breath odour (kitten breath), which is associated with teething. This odour is typical and will continue as long as the kitten is under the process of teething.
Understanding Cat’s Permanent Teeth:
In kittens, the whole dental process is relatively fast. Teething begins in kittens at about 9-10 weeks to 5-6 months of age, starting with the main incisors which ill gradually replace by their permanent counterparts. When the average kitten reaches the age of 7 months, its permanent teeth erupt.
Buried deep in the jawbone, adult teeth, known as tooth buds, are formed beneath the milk teeth. As adult teeth develop, they begin to move through the bone and erupt from the gums. Ideally, a baby’s tooth attached to this permanent tooth falls out naturally. You can even find these hollow tooth shells on the floor or your Cat’s bed.
Understanding A Cat’s Persistent Deciduous Tooth (Permanent Teeth):
Sometimes, however, permanent teeth erupt along with the milk teeth. When the baby tooth is still present, and a permanent tooth has begun to erupt simultaneously, this condition is known as the persistent deciduous tooth.
A persistent tooth occurs when the root of a milk tooth’s is either incompletely resorbed or did not resorb because milk teeth do not fall.
When this happens, the baby teeth occupy a space in the mouth that is meant for permanent teeth, causing the permanent teeth to erupt at an unusual angle or in an abnormal position. The result is often a malposition or crowding of the tooth, leading to abnormal bites known as malocclusion.
The most common teeth with persistent teeth defects are the upper canine teeth, followed by the lower canine teeth and then the incisors. However, in some cases, premolar teeth may persist too.
What Problems Are Caused By Persistent Teeth In Cats?
If both a milk and permanent tooth are in the same jaw socket, the chances of teeth crowding increase, leading to stuck food and debris between teeth. This can lead to severe problems such as tartar deposits, gingivitis, tooth decay, and periodontitis – all of which can lead to early/premature tooth loss. If the root of a retained tooth is only resorbed partially, it can be poorly affected with infection.
If the teeth are not aligned or malpositioned, they can rub against one another, removing enamel and weakening the teeth. Occasionally, a persistent deciduous tooth can cause tooth decay and dental interlock that can interfere with the average growth and development of jawbones.
If the persistent milk tooth is a lower canine tooth, then the permanent lower canine tooth grows on the lower jaw’s inner side, and its tip usually extends towards the roof of the mouth. Contact of this canine tooth with the roof of the mouth may result in significant pain, trauma, and may interfere with your Cat’s ability to eat happily.
How And When Are Persistent Teeth Treated In Cats?
Two teeth should never be in the same socket. If you see persistent teeth in your kitten’s mouth, see your veterinarian as soon as possible for a checkup. Unless the milk teeth are very mobile, extraction is the treatment of choice. It is not a good practice to wait until your kitten is spayed or neutered.
Tip: Early extraction in these cases usually allows the permanent teeth to return to their proper position and prevent further problems
In these cases, early extraction usually allows the adult teeth to move to their proper position and prevent further problems associated with malocclusion. Removal of intact teeth will require an anterior radiograph (X-ray) and general anaesthesia before and after extraction.
Your cat’s surgeon will take special care when removing any persistent tooth to avoid damaging the underdeveloped roots of new permanent teeth.
To better understand the cat teeth deformation process L. OLGART, B. GAZELIUS, F. SUNDSTRÖM published an authentic research study about “Intradental nerve activity and jaw‐opening reflex in response to mechanical deformation of cat teeth.”
What Happens If There Is A Delay In A Persistent Tooth Extraction?
If the persistent milk tooth is not extracted in time, adult teeth will be unlikely to move to their proper position without orthodontic treatment. In these cases, it may be essential to remove other teeth selectively or refer your Cat to a cat dental specialist for dental treatment to reposition the affected teeth. This treatment often involves the use of orthodontic devices such as elastics and buttons.
Without regular home brushing and bi-annual or annual professional dental cleaning, cats develop gum disease, known as periodontal disease. The condition can lead to tooth decay and affect your Cat’s overall health from time to time.