Cat Baby Teeth Vs Permanent Teeth

Kittens are born without any teeth. Around 3-4 weeks of age, they start to develop their baby or deciduous teeth, also called milk teeth. These milk teeth start coming in and help kittens eat solid food and learn to hunt. By around 6-7 months old, permanent adult teeth start coming in to replace the milk teeth which fall out. This process of losing baby teeth and growing permanent teeth is known as teething.

This article will overview the timeline of kitten teeth development from birth through permanent teeth, compare deciduous and permanent teeth, discuss teething symptoms, and provide tips for caring for your kitten’s teeth during this process.

Deciduous Teeth

Deciduous teeth, also known as baby or milk teeth, are a kitten’s first set of teeth. Kittens are born without teeth. Around 3-4 weeks of age, kittens start getting their deciduous teeth, which eventually total around 26 teeth. The deciduous teeth include incisors, canines, and premolars. Incisors are the small front teeth used for biting and grasping food. Canines are the pointed teeth used for grabbing prey and tearing meat. Premolars are the back teeth used for chewing and grinding food.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, kittens have 26 deciduous teeth that start coming in at around 3-4 weeks of age.

Permanent Teeth

Permanent or adult teeth start developing around 4 months old underneath the gums. According to VTNE 239 Flashcards, adult cats have 30 permanent teeth.

The permanent teeth consist of various shapes and purposes:

  • Incisors – Small, chisel-shaped front teeth used for cutting and nibbling food.
  • Canines – Longer, pointed teeth (“fangs”) used for grabbing and tearing food.
  • Premolars – Transitional teeth between canines and molars used for shearing and crushing food.
  • Molars – Broad, flat back teeth designed for chewing and grinding food.

The combination of incisors, canines, premolars, and molars allows cats to bite, tear, and chew their food effectively.

Teething

Kittens start teething around 3-4 months old as their deciduous teeth start falling out and being pushed out by emerging permanent teeth. This is a normal part of development, but can cause some irritation and discomfort. According to the Missing teeth article on Sphynxlair, kittens may experience sore gums during teething, though owners may not notice unless the kitten has changed behaviors like increased chewing (https://sphynxlair.com/community/threads/missing-teeth.943/).

As the permanent teeth erupt, they put pressure on the roots of the deciduous teeth, causing them to loosen and eventually fall out as the permanent teeth take their place. This teething process can prompt kittens to chew on toys and household items to relieve discomfort. Providing appropriate chew toys designed for teething kittens can allow them an outlet for this behavior.

Tooth Eruption Timeline

Kittens are born without any teeth. The eruption of their deciduous (baby) teeth begins around 2-4 weeks of age and continues until around 6-8 months old when all 26 deciduous teeth have emerged. Here’s a general timeline for deciduous tooth eruption:

  • 2-4 weeks: Deciduous incisors begin erupting
  • 3-5 weeks: Deciduous canines erupt
  • 4-6 weeks: Deciduous premolars erupt
  • 5-7 weeks: Deciduous molars erupt

At around 3-4 months of age, permanent teeth start erupting alongside the deciduous teeth. The full set of 30 permanent adult teeth is usually complete by 5-7 months old as the deciduous teeth fall out. Here’s an overview of the eruption timeline for permanent teeth:

  • 3-4 months: Permanent incisors and canines emerge
  • 4-5 months: Permanent premolars emerge
  • 5-7 months: Permanent molars emerge

This chart summarizes the eruption order and timeline for both deciduous and permanent teeth:

Tooth Type Deciduous Eruption Timeline Permanent Eruption Timeline
Incisors 2-4 weeks 3-4 months
Canines 3-5 weeks 3-4 months
Premolars 4-6 weeks 4-5 months
Molars 5-7 weeks 5-7 months

Understanding this eruption timeline helps identify dental issues if permanent or deciduous teeth are missing or retained beyond the usual age range.

Caring for Teeth

Proper dental care is crucial for your cat’s health and wellbeing. According to Supertails, periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition diagnosed in cats over four years old. Poor dental health can lead to tooth loss, gum disease, infections, and other medical issues. That’s why it’s important to take steps to care for your cat’s teeth throughout their life.

For kittens, gently rub their gums and teeth with a soft cloth or finger brush daily to get them used to having their mouth handled. Once their adult teeth start coming in around 6 months, you can introduce toothbrushing with a soft-bristled brush and cat-safe toothpaste.

For adult cats, aim to brush their teeth at least 2-3 times per week if possible. Use circular motions and focus on the gum line. Give treats afterwards so they associate toothbrushing with something positive. There are also dental chews, gels, and wipes that can help reduce plaque buildup between brushings.

In addition to home care, your vet may recommend professional dental cleanings every 6-12 months to fully remove tartar and examine for any issues. Be sure to monitor your cat’s teeth and gums for signs of problems. With proper preventative dental care, you can help your feline friend maintain healthy teeth and gums for years to come.

Retained Deciduous Teeth

Deciduous teeth, also known as baby teeth or milk teeth, are meant to eventually fall out and be replaced by permanent adult teeth. However, sometimes deciduous teeth are not shed properly and are retained beyond the normal time frame. This is known as retained deciduous teeth.

Retained deciduous teeth typically occur when the permanent tooth developing underneath pushes the roots of the baby tooth outwards instead of upwards. This causes the roots to hold onto the jawbone, preventing the deciduous tooth from becoming loose and falling out as it should. The permanent tooth is then blocked from erupting into place.

Retained deciduous teeth can lead to several issues, including alignment problems, overcrowding, formation of cysts, and permanent tooth impaction or eruption into an abnormal position. It also increases the risk of periodontal disease and dental caries in the retained tooth. In some cases, retained deciduous teeth may need to be surgically extracted to allow the permanent teeth to erupt properly.

Treatment depends on the severity of the situation but may involve monitoring, applying orthodontic pressure to the retained tooth, surgical extraction, or extraction of the unerupted permanent tooth in more complex cases. Early consultation with a veterinarian is recommended to determine the best course of action.

Abnormalities

Kittens’ teeth sometimes don’t emerge or align properly. Other dental issues like malocclusion (misaligned bite), gingivitis (gum inflammation), and resorptive lesions (destruction of tooth structure) can also occur. These abnormalities often require veterinary treatment.

Malocclusion is when the upper and lower teeth don’t meet properly. It can be hereditary or result from facial injuries. Mild malocclusion may not require treatment, but severe malocclusion can lead to difficulties eating, damage to oral tissues, and jaw misalignment. Extraction, crown reduction, orthodontics, or jaw surgery may be recommended.

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums, usually caused by plaque buildup. Signs include red, swollen gums that bleed easily. Mild gingivitis can be reversed with regular teeth brushing, but severe cases may require professional dental cleaning and antibiotic treatment.

Resorptive lesions are areas where the tooth structure gets destroyed. This painful condition has an unknown cause and is difficult to treat. Options include extraction, vital pulp therapy, crowns, or fillings. Identifying and addressing it early is key.

Regular veterinary dental exams can help detect and treat these issues before they worsen. Proper dental care at home is also important for minimizing dental disease.

Signs of Dental Disease

Some common signs of dental disease in cats include:

  • Bad breath (halitosis) – This is one of the most obvious signs of dental disease in cats. The bad breath is caused by bacteria growing in the mouth.
  • Weight loss – Dental disease can make it painful for a cat to eat, causing them to eat less and lose weight. Severe dental disease may lead to significant weight loss.
  • Difficulty eating – A cat with dental disease may show signs like chewing on only one side of their mouth, eating slowly, or preferring soft foods that are easier to chew and swallow.
  • Decreased appetite – Mouth pain from dental disease can cause cats to eat less than usual or turn down food altogether.
  • Drooling – Some cats will drool excessively due to mouth pain.

It’s important to have a veterinarian examine a cat showing any signs of dental disease. Leaving dental disease untreated allows bacteria to spread further in the mouth, potentially leading to more severe problems like tooth loss, infections, and damage to internal organs. Early treatment improves the prognosis and makes the cat more comfortable.

Conclusion

Kittens have different teeth than adult cats for good reason. Kittens are born without any teeth at all. Their first teeth are deciduous or “milk teeth” that start coming in around 3-4 weeks old. Kittens have a full set of 26 deciduous teeth by about 6-8 weeks old. These milk teeth are smaller and sharper than permanent adult teeth to help kittens grasp their mother’s teats and eat soft food.

As kittens grow, their jaws also grow larger. Around 3-7 months old, their adult teeth start pushing out the milk teeth, which fall out on their own. By around 6-7 months old, kittens have a full set of 30 permanent teeth suited to their adult mouths and diet. Adult teeth are larger, blunter, and more spaced out. They help cats chew and tear tougher food. Proper dental care for kittens and cats is still important to prevent plaque buildup, gum disease, and tooth loss. Regular teeth brushing, dental cleanings, dental diets, toys, and checks by a vet will keep their teeth healthy for life.

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