Is It Normal for Cats to Lose Their Teeth?

3 min read

Should you worry if your cat loses a tooth? Is it normal?

 

It depends on whether you’re talking about a kitten or an adult cat. Here’s a closer look at kitten and cat teeth so you’ll know when tooth loss is normal and when you need to visit the vet.

 

Do Kittens Lose Their Baby Teeth?

 

Like humans and all other domestic animals, cats do go through two sets of teeth throughout their lives—kitten teeth and adult cat teeth.

 

Kitten Teeth

 

At only a few weeks of age, kittens will begin to get their baby teeth, which are also called “milk teeth” or deciduous teeth.

 

The incisors—the small front teeth—are the first to erupt at 2-4 weeks of age. The premolars—larger teeth towards the back of the mouth—are the last to appear at 5-6 weeks of age, for a total of 26 baby teeth.

 

Kitten Teeth

Type of Tooth

# Upper Teeth

# Lower Teeth

Age of Eruption

(weeks)

Function

Incisors

6

6

3-4

Grasping

Canines

2

2

3-4

Tearing

Premolars

6

4

5-6

Grinding

Molars

0

0

----

Grinding

 

Adult Cat Teeth

 

Around 4-7 months of age, permanent (adult) teeth will start replacing the baby teeth.

 

You may never even see the teeth as your kitten loses them, as they are often lost during mealtime or through play.

 

Long before their first birthday, your growing kitten should have 30 permanent teeth. Barring injury or oral disease, these should keep your kitty chewing into old age.

 

Adult Cat Teeth

Type of Tooth

# Upper Teeth

# Lower Teeth

Age of Eruption

(months)

Function

Incisors

6

6

3.5-4.5

Grasping

Canines

2

2

5

Tearing

Premolars

6

4

4.5-6

Grinding

Molars

2

2

4-5

Grinding

 

What If Kittens Don’t Lose Their Baby Teeth?

 

The most commonly encountered tooth problem in kittens is the retention of baby teeth.

 

If the baby teeth are not lost when the corresponding permanent teeth are coming in, it can result in abnormal tooth position and bite, tartar and plaque buildup, and even abscesses.

 

But there are typically no complications if retained baby teeth are removed promptly by a veterinarian.

 

Is It Normal for Adult Cats to Lose Teeth?

 

It’s not normal for adult cats to lose any teeth.

 

In adult cats, dental disease can start to escalate, and tooth loss can occur in cats suffering from severe dental issues.

 

Dental Disease and Tooth Loss in Adult Cats

 

While cats do not develop cavities like humans do, this does not make them exempt from dental disease and tooth loss.

 

In fact, dental disease is such a common feline ailment that approximately two-thirds of cats over 3 years of age have some degree of dental disease. Of course, not all tooth loss is caused by dental disease, and not all dental disease results in tooth loss.

 

As with humans, cats accumulate bacterial plaque on the surface of their teeth. If the plaque is not removed quickly, it becomes mineralized to form tartar and calculus.

 

If dental disease is caught at an early stage, a thorough dental scaling and polishing may be able to save most of your cat’s teeth.

 

However, if gingivitis is allowed to persist untreated, then irreversible damage to the bone and ligaments that support the tooth will lead to excessive tooth mobility and eventual tooth loss.

 

If you notice that your adult cat is missing a tooth, or you find a cat tooth around your house, please seek veterinary care, as this is a major sign of painful dental disease.

 

 

By: Laci Schaible, DVM, CVJ

Featured Image: iStock.com/Terroa