What Causes Cats Teeth To Fall Out?

Tooth loss in cats, also known as feline tooth resorption, is a common condition where a cat’s teeth become damaged and fall out. It typically occurs in middle-aged to older cats, with over 50% of cats over the age of 6 affected to some degree.

Tooth resorption involves the breakdown of the tooth structure, starting from the root and progressively destroying the enamel and dentin. As it advances, it leads to severe dental disease, abscesses, and ultimately tooth loss if left untreated.

Symptoms of tooth resorption include difficulty eating, drooling, bad breath, loose or lost teeth, pain, and behavioral changes. Cats are adept at hiding dental pain, so owners may not notice any obvious signs. Annual veterinary dental exams can help detect early stages of disease.

While the exact causes are not fully understood, genetics, chronic inflammation, and mechanical stress are believed to play a role. Proper at-home dental care and professional cleanings may help prevent or delay progression of tooth resorption in cats.


There are several potential causes for tooth loss in cats:

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adult cats. According to Veterinary Dental (https://veterinarydental.com/cat-losing-teeth/), periodontal disease occurs when plaque builds up on the teeth and leads to infection and inflammation of the gums and tooth roots. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause significant tooth loss in cats.


Traumatic injuries to a cat’s mouth can also lead to tooth loss. The Vet Dentists (https://thevetdentists.com/how-to-care-for-a-cat-losing-its-teeth/) explain that falls from heights are a common cause of dental trauma in cats. The impact can loosen, fracture, or completely knock out teeth.


Some purebred cat breeds are genetically prone to dental issues that can lead to premature tooth loss. For example, Persians and Siamese cats are at higher risk for gingivitis, malocclusions, and other dental problems.


Advanced age can also contribute to tooth loss in cats. PetMD (https://www.petmd.com/cat/general-health/it-normal-cats-lose-their-teeth) notes that dental disease tends to worsen with age. Older cats often experience significant tooth loss due to wear and tear on their teeth over time.

Periodontal Disease is inflammation and infection of the tissues around the teeth. It is the most common cause of tooth loss in cats.

Periodontal disease begins with plaque accumulation on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film composed of food debris, bacteria and salivary proteins. Over time, plaque hardens into tartar which inflames the gums (gingivitis). As gingivitis advances, it can spread below the gumline affecting the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone structures which support the teeth (periodontitis). Destruction of these supporting structures leads to loosening and eventual tooth loss if left untreated.

According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, “Studies report that between 50 and 90% of cats older than four years of age suffer from some form of dental disease.” (source)


One of the most common causes of tooth loss in cats is trauma or injury to the teeth and jaw 1. This can occur from hits to the face during falls or fights with other animals. The maxillary canine tooth is frequently traumatized in cats. Trauma can lead to tooth fractures, luxation (displacement), or complete avulsion (loss) of the tooth. Additionally, chewing on hard objects like bones, rocks, or toys can lead to tooth fractures over time.

Traumatic injuries are extremely painful for cats and require urgent veterinary attention. Fractured or damaged teeth often need to be extracted to prevent further complications. After an extraction, the cat’s mouth will heal over time. But missing teeth can sometimes cause issues with eating or jaw alignment later on. Preventing access to risky toys and supervising playtime with other pets can help reduce the chances of dental trauma occurring.


Some purebred cats are more prone to dental issues due to genetics. According to Cornell Feline Health Center, certain breeds like Persians and Himalayans are predisposed to malocclusions and dental disease. Brachycephalic breeds with flat faces like Persians can have crowding and misalignment of teeth due to their facial structure. The CFA also notes dental issues in breeds like British Shorthairs. Proper care and regular dental cleanings can help mitigate genetic risks.


As cats age, more dental issues become common. According to PetMD, older cats often start losing teeth due to wear and tear over time. The teeth essentially become loose and fall out on their own or need to be extracted by a veterinarian. This is especially true for the incisors in the front of the mouth. The canine teeth usually remain intact longer, but may also eventually fall out in senior cats.

Cats begin to be considered senior or geriatric around 11-14 years old. So dental issues like tooth loss tend to emerge in the second half of a cat’s lifetime. While some tooth loss can be normal in aging cats, it’s still important to monitor their oral health and have any concerning dental issues checked by a vet.


There are several symptoms that indicate a cat may be losing teeth due to disease or other issues. The most common symptoms include:

Bleeding gums – Red, inflamed, or bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis or periodontal disease, which can cause tooth loss. As plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth, it causes inflammation and infection of the gums.

Bad breath – Foul breath or halitosis is another sign of gum disease in cats. Bacteria from plaque buildup causes unpleasant odors.

Loose teeth – When periodontal disease damages the tissues supporting the teeth, teeth can become loose and eventually fall out. You may notice a loose tooth that wiggles or seems detached.

Difficulty eating – A cat losing its teeth may have trouble biting into food or chewing properly. Soft food may be more comfortable for a cat with damaged or missing teeth.

In addition to these symptoms, you may notice discoloration of the teeth, reluctance to be touched near the mouth, or general irritability in a cat losing its teeth.


A veterinarian will be able to diagnose the cause of a cat’s tooth loss through a physical exam and dental X-rays. During the physical exam, the veterinarian will examine the cat’s mouth to look for signs of disease, trauma, or abnormal wear on the teeth and gums. According to The Vet Dentists, the physical exam allows the vet to check for pain, infection, and other oral health issues.

Dental X-rays, also called radiographs, allow the vet to see below the surface of the teeth and gums. These images can reveal abscesses, cysts, tumors, root exposure and damage that may not be visible from just looking in the mouth. X-rays are important for fully evaluating the health of the teeth, roots and jaw bones.

Finally, lab tests like bloodwork or a urinalysis may be recommended. These can detect issues like kidney disease, diabetes or hyperthyroidism that may contribute to dental disease, according to Veterinary Dental.


Treatment for tooth loss in cats depends on the underlying cause. Here are some common treatments:


Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat or prevent infections associated with gum disease, abscesses, or trauma. Common antibiotics used include clindamycin and amoxicillin. Antibiotics help control bacterial overgrowth and associated inflammation.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like meloxicam may be given to reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation in the mouth. This helps make eating more comfortable for the cat.

Tooth extraction

Extraction is commonly done for badly damaged, decayed, or infected teeth. Removing the affected tooth alleviates pain and infection and allows healing. Extractions can be partial or full.

Dental cleaning

A professional dental cleaning removes tartar and plaque from the teeth under anesthesia. This helps reduce bacteria, inflammation, and progressive dental disease. Cleanings may be done with tooth extractions.


There are several ways cat owners can help prevent their cats from losing teeth prematurely:

Regular dental cleanings – Getting your cat’s teeth professionally cleaned by a veterinarian once or twice a year can help dramatically reduce plaque and tartar buildup, which helps prevent periodontal disease. Veterinary dental cleanings involve scaling and polishing each tooth under anesthesia.

Brushing teeth – Daily toothbrushing is the gold standard for preventive cat dental care. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and cat-safe toothpaste to gently brush away plaque each day. This helps disrupt biofilm formation and keep your cat’s teeth clean and healthy. Introduce toothbrushing slowly and make it a positive experience. (source)

Dental diet – Feeding dry kibble specially formulated to help reduce plaque and tartar can make a difference in your cat’s oral health. Look for vet-recommended dental diet foods made with kibble in optimal shapes and textures to clean teeth as your cat chews.

Chew toys – Providing safe chew toys allows cats to exercise their chewing muscles and scrape away tartar naturally. Look for textured chew toys made of rubber, cloth, or rope. Rotate the toys to keep your cat interested.

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