Retained Baby Teeth in Cats
A retained or persistent deciduous (baby) tooth is one that is still present despite the eruption of the permanent tooth (which takes place between three to sevens months of age). Such teeth may go undiagnosed until later in life.
Persistent deciduous teeth can cause the permanent teeth to erupt in abnormal positions, resulting in a bad bite. The “bite” describes how the upper and lower teeth fit together in the mouth and can have a significant effect on biting and chewing. Early recognition and reparative dental care is essential. Retained teeth can cause overcrowding of new teeth, teeth to bite into the palate, and abnormal tooth position or abnormal jaw position.
Symptoms and Types
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Abnormally-positioned permanent teeth
- Swollen, red, bleeding gums around baby teeth
- Local gingivitis and periodontal disease due to teeth overcrowding
- A permanent abnormal passageway between the mouth and nasal cavity (oronasal fistula)
Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam, which will include inspecting your cat's mouth. Your veterinarian will chart the teeth present in the mouth to assure and record the presence of deciduous (baby) teeth along with the teeth that have succesfully grown in. X-rays of the inside of the mouth may also need to be taken to make certain which teeth are baby teeth and which are permanent teeth, to see if the baby tooth is ready to fall out or be removed, and to make sure that the baby tooth has a permanent tooth to replace it.
The deciduous (baby) tooth should be surgically removed as soon as the permanent tooth has begun pushing through your cat’s gums. In addition, fractured or retained root(s) may need to be removed with a gingival flap -- a procedure in which the gums are separated from the teeth and folded back to allow a veterinarian to reach the root of the tooth and the bone.
Living and Management
After surgery, restrict your cat’s activity for the rest of the day. Feed him or her a soft diet—canned or moistened dry kibble—as well as restrict its access to chew toys for 24 hours after surgery.
Your veterinarian will provide you with oral pain medication to give to your pet for one to three days after surgery. You may also be asked to administer an oral rinse or gel in your pet's mouth for three to five days after surgery. Daily brushing, meanwhile, should commence 24 hours after brushing.