Older Cat Lost Canine Tooth

Cats can live long and healthy lives as cherished companions and members of the family. However, as cats age, their teeth can deteriorate and cause a number of health issues. The loss of important teeth, like the long and sharp canine teeth, can impact your cat’s quality of life.

It’s normal for senior cats, usually over the age of 10, to start experiencing tooth loss and dental disease. But with attentive care and treatment from pet owners and veterinarians, cats can thrive even after losing an important tooth like a canine. Understanding the causes, recognizing the signs, and getting veterinary care can help cats continue to live comfortably into their senior years.

This guide will cover everything you need to know if your aging cat has lost a canine tooth. With information on dental anatomy, health impacts, treatment options, and care strategies, you’ll be equipped to support your cat’s health and happiness after this change.

Anatomy of Cat Teeth

Cats have 30 adult teeth that are specialized for grabbing, tearing, and chewing food. There are four main types of teeth in a cat’s mouth.


Incisors are the small teeth at the front of the mouth used for scraping meat off bones and grooming fur. Cats have six incisors on the top jaw and six on the bottom. The incisors are the smallest teeth in a cat’s mouth.


The pointed canine teeth (also called fangs) on either side of the incisors are used for killing prey and tearing meat. Cats have two upper canines and two lower canines. The upper canines are longer and more pointed than the lower ones.


Behind the canines are small, sharp teeth called premolars. Cats have two upper premolars and two lower premolars on each side. Premolars help grip and shred food.


In the back of the mouth are the flat-surfaced molars. Cats have six upper molars and six lower molars. The molars grind food into smaller pieces before swallowing.

Why Do Cats Lose Teeth?

It is normal for cats to lose their baby teeth as kittens when their adult teeth come in. By around 6 months of age, kittens will typically have all of their adult teeth. However, tooth loss in adult or senior cats is often a sign of an underlying issue.

In older cats, the most common causes of tooth loss are periodontal disease, tooth resorption, and trauma. Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the structures surrounding the tooth, which can cause tooth loosening and eventual tooth loss if left untreated. Tooth resorption is a condition where the body breaks down or dissolves part of the tooth structure, leading to pain, infection, and tooth loss. Trauma from a hit or bite can also directly cause a tooth to fall out or need extraction.

While some degree of dental disease is common as cats age, excessive tooth loss is not normal. Cats are expected to keep most of their teeth into old age with proper preventative dental care. Rapid tooth loss in senior cats usually signifies an underlying illness or dental disease progression that should be addressed.

According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal disease affects up to 85% of cats over age 6. The risk increases with age, so senior cats are prone to developing dental problems leading to tooth loss. However, tooth loss from periodontal disease and resorption can often be prevented with professional cleanings and home dental care.[1]

Signs Your Cat Has Lost a Tooth

There are several signs that may indicate your cat has lost a tooth. According to PetMD, the most common symptoms include:

  • Bad breath
  • Trouble eating or chewing food
  • Excessive drooling
  • Behavioral changes – your cat may seem irritated or aggressive
  • Swelling around the face or jaw
  • Bleeding from the mouth

Cats rely heavily on their teeth for eating, grooming, and other essential functions. Therefore, losing a tooth can significantly impact their quality of life. If your cat stops eating or seems like they are in pain when chewing, take a look inside their mouth for any missing teeth. You may also notice subtle behavior changes if eating becomes difficult and frustrating for your cat.

According to Catster, bad breath is one of the most obvious signs of dental issues in cats. If you notice a foul odor when your cat yawns or you pet near their mouth, they may have an infected tooth that needs attention. Don’t ignore bad breath in cats – it almost always indicates an underlying problem requiring veterinary care.

Dangers of Lost Teeth

Losing a tooth can be dangerous for cats if proper care is not taken. Some of the main dangers include:

Pain – Losing a tooth, especially if the root remains, can cause significant pain for cats. The open tooth socket is exposed, which can lead to sensitivity and discomfort when eating or grooming. Pain may cause a cat to stop eating properly.

Infection – An open tooth socket provides an entry point for bacteria to enter and potentially cause infection. Infection of the tooth socket (called tooth root abscess) is common if the tooth root remains behind. Infection is very painful and can spread to other teeth or tissues if left untreated (source: https://www.petmd.com/cat/general-health/it-normal-cats-lose-their-teeth).

Remaining Tooth Root – If the tooth root is left behind after a tooth falls out or is extracted, it will continue to be a source of pain and potential infection. The tooth root needs to be fully removed to prevent complications (source: https://www.catster.com/guides/my-cat-lost-a-tooth-should-i-worry/).

Caring For Your Cat’s Teeth

Proper dental care is crucial for your cat’s health and quality of life. Here are some of the best ways to care for your cat’s teeth:

Brushing – Regular toothbrushing helps remove plaque and tartar to prevent periodontal disease. Use a soft bristled brush and cat-safe toothpaste. Brush gently in circular motions along the gumline. Introduce brushing slowly and make it a positive experience with praise and treats. Brushing just a few times a week can make a difference.

Dental cleanings – Your vet can perform a professional dental cleaning under anesthesia to thoroughly clean above and below the gumline. Tartar and plaque are scraped off, teeth are polished smooth, and diseased teeth can be extracted if needed. Cleanings are recommended every 6-12 months depending on your cat’s needs.[1]

Diet – Dry kibble helps naturally scrape away plaque and tartar as your cat chews. Choose kibble that is highly digestible with nutrients to support oral health. Canned food won’t scrape the teeth clean but the water content can help dilute bacteria in the mouth.

Seeing the Vet

It’s important to take your cat to the vet if they lose a tooth, especially if it was a sudden loss. Sudden tooth loss can be caused by trauma or an underlying illness, so a veterinary exam is recommended (1). Some signs that warrant a prompt vet visit include (2):

  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Facial swelling
  • Nasal discharge
  • Painful chewing or difficulty eating

Even if your cat seems fine after losing a tooth, it’s still a good idea to have them examined. The vet will check for any retained root fragments and make sure there is no infection present. They can also assess the health of the surrounding teeth and provide recommendations for follow-up care (3). Regular dental cleanings and exams are especially important for senior cats who are prone to dental disease. With prompt veterinary attention, your cat can adjust well to tooth loss.

(1) https://blog.petwellbeing.com/what-should-you-do-if-your-cat-loses-a-tooth

(2) https://thevetdentists.com/how-to-care-for-a-cat-losing-its-teeth/

(3) https://wagwalking.com/cat/condition/tooth-dislocation-sudden-loss

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options available if your cat loses a tooth or needs a damaged tooth extracted:

  • Tooth extraction – This is the most common treatment for a lost or severely damaged tooth. The vet will fully extract the tooth and remaining roots under anesthesia.
  • Root canal – If the tooth root is healthy, a root canal may be performed to remove diseased pulp and save the tooth. A crown is often placed after.
  • Crowns – A crown can be used to restore form and function to a damaged tooth after a root canal. It caps the tooth and prevents further decay.
  • Tooth restoration – For minor damage, a filling or bonding can repair chips or cracks in the tooth enamel.
  • Antibiotics – Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent or treat any infections of the tooth socket after extraction.

Your vet will examine your cat’s mouth and determine the best treatment option for their specific dental health situation. Extractions are safest when there is significant tooth damage, while restorations can repair teeth with only minor damage. Work closely with your vet to decide on the right solution for your cat.




Caring For Your Cat After Tooth Loss

After your cat has a tooth extracted, you will need to provide some extra care while they recover. Here are some tips for caring for your cat after a tooth extraction:

Feed soft foods – Cats should eat soft, moist foods after a tooth extraction to reduce irritation to the surgical site. Wet canned food or dry kibble soaked in warm water are good options. Avoid hard kibbles or treats. Follow your vet’s recommendations on how long to feed soft foods, usually around 2 weeks. Hill’s Pet Nutrition recommends feeding exclusively soft food for at least 3-7 days after the procedure.

Manage pain – Your vet will prescribe pain medication, usually for 3-7 days after surgery. It’s important to give all doses as directed so your cat stays comfortable. Signs of pain include reduced appetite, lethargy, aggression, reluctance to be handled, and altered grooming habits. Call your vet if you notice these behaviors persisting beyond the initial recovery period.

Watch for behavioral changes – Your cat may be hesitant to eat or seem more withdrawn after a tooth extraction. This is normal as they recover from anesthesia and adjust to missing a tooth. Give them space but watch for signs of ongoing discomfort. Litter box issues, aggression, and hiding could indicate a problem. Contact your vet if behavioral changes last more than 2-3 days.

Providing a Good Quality of Life

Losing teeth can be difficult for cats, but there are many things you can do to keep your toothless cat happy and healthy. The most important thing is providing foods that are easy for your cat to eat without teeth. Canned or well-soaked dry foods are ideal, as are meat purees and mashed foods. You may need to experiment to find textures your cat enjoys. Place food bowls on flat surfaces and consider elevating them to make eating more comfortable. It may help to warm food slightly to bring out aroma and flavor.

It’s also crucial to monitor your cat’s weight and health since toothless cats are prone to malnutrition. Supplements or prescription foods may be needed to maintain proper nutrition. Providing multiple small meals throughout the day can help cats eat adequate amounts. Water intake is important as well – opt for bowls with flowing water sources.

Beyond diet, focus on maintaining your cat’s quality of life through play, affection, routine and minimizing stress. Soft toys like stuffed mice or fabric balls allow cats to play-hunt and attack prey. Gentle play and interaction are important for physical and mental exercise. Be patient if your cat needs extra time adapting to changes in eating. With care and attention, cats can thrive despite lost teeth.

Sources: https://www.wellpets.com/blog/105-caring-for-a-cat-with-few-or-no-teeth, https://www.reddit.com/r/CatAdvice/comments/113hglv/cat_quality_of_life_with_no_teeth_will_they_still/

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