What To Do If Cats Tooth Falls Out?

Causes of Tooth Loss in Cats

There are several potential causes for tooth loss in cats, including:

Periodontal disease – This is the most common cause of tooth loss in cats. Periodontal disease involves inflammation and infection of the tissues surrounding the tooth, including the gums and bone. It’s caused by plaque buildup on the teeth. Left untreated, periodontal disease progresses and causes loosening and eventual loss of teeth. According to The Vet Dentists, periodontal disease accounts for 85% of tooth loss in cats [1].

Injury or trauma – An injury to the mouth, such as being hit by a car or bitten by another animal, can lead to fractured, damaged, or lost teeth. Blunt force trauma to the mouth may knock teeth loose or break them.

Tooth resorption – This occurs when the cells that break down and rebuild bone mistakenly attack the structures surrounding the tooth. It causes progressive destruction of the tooth and root structures. The affected tooth eventually falls out once the root has been sufficiently damaged. It typically affects one or more teeth and is relatively common in cats.

Old age – Like humans, cats can experience age-related tooth loss. As cats age, their teeth may gradually loosen and eventually fall out due to gum recession, erosion of tooth enamel, and other age-related changes.

Signs Your Cat Has Lost a Tooth

There are several signs that may indicate your cat has lost a tooth. The most common signs to look out for include:

Trouble eating or chewing – Your cat may have difficulty picking up food, chewing properly, or seem to favor one side of the mouth when eating. Cats use their teeth to grasp, kill prey, and chew food, so missing teeth can make this challenging.

Drooling – Excessive drooling or drooling on one side can signify dental problems like a lost tooth. The tooth root may be exposed, causing pain and discomfort.

Facial swelling – Swelling around the mouth, jaws or cheeks could mean an abscess or infection from a lost tooth. This requires veterinary attention.

Bad breath – Foul breath or halitosis can indicate dental disease. Bacteria from lost teeth or infected gums contribute to bad breath.

Pawing at the mouth – Your cat may paw at their mouth, rub their face on surfaces, or show signs of oral discomfort. This often signals an issue like a lost tooth.

Noticing any of these symptoms warrants a veterinary visit to diagnose and treat the underlying cause. Prompt dental care is important to prevent complications and ensure your cat’s comfort while eating.[1]

Dangers of Tooth Loss

Losing teeth can be dangerous for cats in a few key ways:

Malnutrition – According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine(1), tooth loss interferes with a cat’s ability to properly chew food. This can lead to malnutrition if the cat is unable to consume enough calories and nutrients from their food. Cats who have lost multiple teeth may require a special soft food diet prescribed by a vet to prevent malnutrition.

Pain – Thevetdentists.com notes(2) that advanced gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in cats. The inflammation and infection associated with severe gum disease is very painful. Even after a painful tooth falls out, the cat may still experience discomfort in the area.

Infection – An open tooth socket after a tooth falls out leaves the jaw area vulnerable to bacteria. This can lead to painful abscesses or infections under the gums, which require antibiotic treatment, according to PetMD(3).

Damage to Other Teeth – When some teeth are lost, the opposing teeth can overgrow or shift position, causing misalignment issues. This can lead to damage of surrounding teeth, trauma to the cat’s soft mouth tissues, and an abnormal bite, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center(1).

When to See the Vet

If your cat has lost a tooth, it’s important to schedule a veterinary appointment right away. According to the Pet Wellbeing article “What Should You Do If Your Cat Loses a Tooth?”, you should contact your vet immediately in the following situations:

  • The tooth is broken and the pulp is exposed – This can allow bacteria to enter the root canal and cause a painful infection (The Vet Dentists)
  • Your cat has lost multiple teeth – Losing more than one tooth is not normal and indicates an underlying dental disease
  • There are signs of infection like swelling, redness, or discharge around the missing tooth – An infection requires antibiotics and dental treatment
  • Your cat is having difficulty eating due to the missing tooth – This can lead to malnutrition and requires prompt veterinary attention

According to The Catster article “My Cat Lost a Tooth – Should I Be Worried?”, tooth loss in adult cats is often a sign of advanced dental disease that requires intervention. Therefore, it’s important to have your vet examine your cat’s mouth soon after any tooth loss.

At the Vet’s Office

If your cat has lost a tooth, it’s important to take them to the vet for a full examination of their mouth and teeth. The vet will do a comprehensive oral exam to look closely at your cat’s teeth and gums. They will check for signs of infection, inflammation, and dental disease like gingivitis or abscesses. X-rays of the mouth may also be recommended to allow the vet to see the tooth roots and surrounding bone structures. This can help identify any hidden dental issues.

Based on the exam and x-rays, the vet may recommend extraction of the lost tooth or any other problematic teeth. Extractions are often needed with tooth loss in cats, as diseased roots left behind can cause ongoing pain and infection. Your vet will discuss your cat’s case with you and recommend appropriate treatment, which may include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, pain relief, dental cleaning, or extractions if deemed necessary after a full examination. Catching dental issues early is important, so always have your cat seen promptly if you notice a lost tooth.


How to Care for a Cat Losing Its Teeth

Caring for Your Cat After Tooth Loss

If your cat loses a tooth, it’s important to properly care for them afterwards. Here are some tips for caring for a cat after they’ve lost a tooth:

First, you’ll want to soften their food or switch to wet food. Dry kibble can be painful for a cat to chew after losing a tooth. Canned or pouched wet foods are easier for them to eat. You can also add water to dry food to soften it.

Avoid giving hard treats as well, as these could cause discomfort. Soft treats or pieces of meat are better options.

It’s also important to brush their teeth daily. This helps prevent plaque buildup and decay on the remaining teeth. Use a soft-bristled brush and cat-safe toothpaste.

Monitor your cat’s eating and behavior after losing a tooth. Make sure they are eating properly and not showing signs of pain or discomfort. If they seem to be struggling, call your vet.

Caring for your cat after tooth loss involves making adjustments to their diet and dental routine. With soft foods, proper brushing, and monitoring, they can remain happy and healthy even after losing a tooth.

Feeding Your Cat

Cats who have lost teeth will need to adjust their diet to make eating less painful and easier on their remaining teeth. Focus on providing wet, canned cat foods without small, hard pieces that could irritate gums. According to Untamed Cat Food, “If you give dry food to a feline with few to no teeth, try softening up the cat biscuits with unseasoned clear soups and meat or bone broths.”

Look for pate-style canned foods that have a smooth, soft texture, like Blue Wilderness duck flavor according to recommendations on Quora. You can also find veterinary dental diets made specifically for cats with dental issues that are easy to eat. Avoid any kibble or dry food that is small and hard, as it will be difficult for your cat to chew and may cause pain.

It is ideal to transition your cat fully to wet food when possible after tooth loss. Not only is canned food easier to eat, but the high moisture content helps with hydration. Work closely with your veterinarian to find the right diet for your individual cat’s needs.

Providing Pain Relief

Once a cat loses a tooth, especially if it breaks off and leaves exposed roots behind, they will likely experience some degree of pain and discomfort. According to the veterinarians at VCA Animal Hospitals, “The only effective treatment for dental pain is to address the cat’s underlying dental disease.” While you wait for a vet appointment to extract any remaining roots, there are a couple options to help provide some pain relief.

Your vet may prescribe pain medication to help manage your cat’s discomfort in the short-term. Prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like meloxicam can provide more effective pain relief than over-the-counter medications (https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dental-pain-in-cats). Follow all dosage instructions carefully.

There are also some natural supplements that may help provide pain relief. The veterinary dentists at The Vet Dentists recommend supplements containing turmeric, omega-3 fatty acids, and glucosamine. Always consult your vet before giving any new supplements.

Preventing Future Tooth Loss

There are several steps you can take to help prevent your cat from losing more teeth in the future:

Brushing your cat’s teeth regularly is the most effective way to remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and cat-safe toothpaste. Brush gently in circular motions along the gumline. Introduce brushing slowly and make it a positive experience with treats and praise (VCA Animal Hospitals).

Take your cat to the vet for regular dental checkups and professional cleanings. Your vet can scale plaque from below the gumline and polish the teeth to keep them healthy (Cornell Feline Health Center).

Feeding dental treats and chews helps scrape away plaque and tartar. Look for treats made specifically for dental health that are vet approved. Avoid hard chews that could damage teeth (Plymouth Vet).

When to Extract Remaining Teeth

There are a few situations when it may be best to extract all remaining teeth in a cat who has already lost some teeth (1):

  • Severe dental disease affecting multiple teeth. If dental x-rays and exams show advanced disease in most of the teeth, it may be better to extract them all rather than try to save badly diseased teeth.
  • Only a few teeth left. If the cat already has lost many teeth, the remaining ones may eventually need extraction as well. It is often easier on the cat to extract them all at once rather than undergo multiple extractions.
  • Chronic dental infections not resolved by individual extractions. Sometimes dental disease and infection persist even after extracting affected teeth. This indicates a deeper issue, and removing all remaining teeth may be necessary.

Veterinarians recommend considering full mouth extractions once a certain threshold of tooth loss and dental disease is reached, as it can help resolve ongoing issues and prevent future problems. Extraction can provide lasting pain relief and improved quality of life when multiple teeth are severely compromised.

(1) https://www.countryvet.net/post/when-does-my-cat-need-a-tooth-extraction-.html

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