Why Did My Cat Lose A Fang?

Losing a fang is a relatively common occurrence for cats. While our furry feline friends are born with 30 deciduous (baby) teeth, by the time they reach adulthood they have only 30 permanent teeth remaining. It’s normal for cats to shed their baby teeth as their permanent teeth grow in. However, it is not normal for adult cats to lose any of their 30 permanent teeth prematurely. If an adult cat loses a fang, it is usually a sign of an underlying health issue.

This article will examine some of the most common reasons behind adult cats losing their fangs. Understanding why tooth loss occurs can help cat owners identify problems early and get their cat the treatment they need.

Normal Fang Loss

It’s normal for kittens to lose their milk teeth as their permanent adult teeth grow in. This process is called teething and usually begins around 3-4 months of age, though the exact timing can vary from kitten to kitten (https://www.greencrossvets.com.au/services/kitten-teething/).

Kittens have 26 deciduous (baby) teeth that start falling out around 12-16 weeks old to make way for 30 permanent adult teeth. The loss of milk teeth allows the permanent teeth to erupt in the proper position and spacing. This is all part of the natural development process in kittens.

The teething process can last until a kitten is around 6-7 months old. So it’s common for kittens to lose their milk fangs, along with other teeth, while their adult teeth are growing in. There’s usually nothing to worry about if a milk fang becomes loose or falls out during this time, as long as the kitten is active, eating and drinking normally (https://www.harmonyanimalhospital.net/pet-dental-care-cats-lose-baby-teeth-2/).

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is one of the most common dental diseases in cats and a leading cause of tooth loss (Source: https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feline-dental-disease). It involves inflammation and infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth, including the gums, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. If left untreated, periodontal disease progresses through various stages and eventually causes irreversible damage, loosening teeth and leading to tooth loss.

The early stage of feline periodontal disease usually does not have obvious symptoms. As it progresses to moderate and severe stages, common symptoms to watch for include: bad breath, reddened gums, buildup of tartar and plaque on teeth, swollen or receding gums, loose or discolored teeth, drooling or pawing at the mouth, and difficulty eating (Source: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dental-disease-in-cats).

Treatment for periodontal disease focuses on removing built-up plaque and tartar and addressing any underlying infection. A professional veterinary dental cleaning is required, which may include scaling, polishing, medications, or tooth extractions. Ongoing homecare such as brushing, dental diets, and dental treats can help prevent recurrence. The earlier treatment begins, the better the prognosis for saving affected teeth.


Injuries from accidents or fights are a common cause of fang loss in cats. The canine teeth, also known as fangs, are located in the front of a cat’s mouth and are used for hunting, biting, and defense. They can be easily damaged or knocked out during traumatic events.

Fights with other cats can lead to bite wounds that may damage, dislocate or even completely knock out the fangs. The same can happen from a hard bite down on a toy or other object. Falls or car accidents can also cause trauma to the fangs and lead to tooth loss.

According to WagWalking, it takes a significant amount of force to dislodge or damage a fang tooth. However, the fangs protrude forward in the mouth, making them vulnerable during fights, bites on hard objects, or trauma from an accident.

If a cat loses a fang due to injury, it may show signs like bleeding from the mouth, difficulty eating, pawing at the mouth, or behavioral changes. Veterinary examination can determine if a tooth was damaged or lost and if further treatment is needed, like antibiotic therapy or extraction of damaged roots.

Oral Tumors

Oral tumors are abnormal growths that develop in the mouth or surrounding tissues of cats. While not all oral tumors are malignant, some can be cancerous. Oral tumors often damage teeth and lead to tooth loss in cats.

According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, the most common malignant oral tumor in cats is squamous cell carcinoma, accounting for 65% of all oral tumors [1]. Squamous cell carcinoma is locally invasive and aggressive, often eroding the bone around teeth. This erosion leads to loose teeth that eventually fall out. Other signs of oral tumors include difficulty eating, drooling, weight loss, and bad breath.

Additionally, according to VCA Animal Hospitals, malignant melanoma, fibrosarcomas, and osteosarcomas can also damage teeth and supporting structures, resulting in tooth loss [2]. Benign tumors like epulides and papillomas may also loosen teeth if they grow large enough.

Treatment for oral tumors involves surgery to remove the mass along with extraction of damaged teeth. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may also be recommended after surgery. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to preventing significant tooth loss and other complications.

Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption is a common condition in cats where the cells that break down and reshape bone, called odontoclasts, become overactive and essentially “eat away” at the tooth structure. This erodes the dentin layer of the tooth and forms progressively worsening lesions that compromise the tooth (1).

As the odontoclasts continue to resorb the dentin, this eventually reaches the pulp cavity and root canal, exposing the sensitive inner structures of the tooth. This is very painful for cats. The process continues resorbing tooth structure until the tooth becomes so compromised that it fractures and falls out (2).

Tooth resorption usually starts with a small lesion but progresses over time. Early detection and treatment is important to try to save the tooth before extensive damage occurs. However, once advanced, the resorption cannot be reversed and tooth extraction is ultimately needed.


There are several treatment options for cats that have lost teeth or are at risk of tooth loss. The main treatment is tooth extraction, which is performed under general anesthesia by a veterinarian. Extraction completely removes the tooth and prevents further dental disease in that area.

Antibiotics may be prescribed, especially if an infection is present. Antibiotics help control secondary infections and reduce inflammation. Common antibiotics used include clindamycin, amoxicillin, or cephalexin.

Special prescription dental foods can benefit cats with oral pain or missing teeth. These foods are formulated into easy-to-chew textures with larger kibble sizes. Foods can also be soaked in water to soften them further. This allows cats to eat comfortably if chewing is difficult.

Pain medication such as buprenorphine may be given for several days after extractions to keep cats comfortable. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also help control pain and swelling.

Regular dental cleanings and oral exams are important for prevention. Cats with previous dental issues should have their mouths evaluated by a vet every 6-12 months.

With treatment from a veterinarian, cats can adjust well to tooth loss. Ongoing home care and monitoring their eating is important to make sure your cat remains healthy and pain-free.


There are several steps cat owners can take to help prevent tooth loss in cats:

Dental care – Regular tooth brushing and dental cleanings can remove plaque and tartar that cause periodontal disease. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and cat-safe toothpaste to gently brush your cat’s teeth at least 2-3 times per week. Professional dental cleanings by your veterinarian are also recommended once or twice a year.[1]

Avoid trauma – Keeping your cat indoors can reduce the risk of trauma and injuries from fights with other cats or wildlife. Use scratching posts and toys to redirect scratching and chewing away from household items. Supervise play to prevent aggressive biting of toys or roughhousing with other pets.[2]

Vet checkups – Annual veterinary exams allow early detection of dental disease, tumors, and other oral health issues. Your vet can assess your cat’s teeth and recommend any needed treatment or extraction of damaged teeth.[3]


The prognosis for cats who have lost fangs depends on the underlying cause. In cases of normal tooth loss due to aging, there are typically no major impacts on quality of life or longevity as long as the cat is still able to eat properly (source). However, ongoing dental disease like periodontitis can negatively impact overall health if left untreated. According to PetMD, dental disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and can lead to tooth loss over time. While a single lost fang may not drastically impact quality of life, progression of dental disease can lead to multiple tooth loss, bone loss, infection, and reduced ability to chew and eat (source).

For cats who have lost fangs due to trauma, the prognosis depends on the severity of the injury. Minor injuries may heal on their own with no lasting effects. However, more significant trauma like a fractured jaw could require surgery and impact the cat’s ability to eat normally. Proper treatment is important to prevent complications.

In cases of oral tumors or tooth resorption, the prognosis varies depending on the specific condition, treatment approach, and overall health of the cat. These conditions may lead to multiple tooth loss over time. Working closely with a veterinarian is important for ongoing monitoring and care.

Overall, the prognosis is generally good for cats who lose fangs, especially if treated early. With proper care and treatment, most cats can maintain a good quality of life.


In summary, there are several potential causes for a cat to lose a fang tooth. Normal wear and tear can lead to gradual fang loss as cats age. More concerning causes include periodontal disease, trauma or injury, oral tumors, and tooth resorption. While the underlying cause determines treatment, options generally include extracting the affected tooth, treating any infections, and managing pain. Preventative care like routine dental cleanings can help minimize dental issues. The prognosis for fang loss depends on the cause, but cats can adapt well to missing teeth if the condition is properly managed. Overall, fang loss is common but treatable in cats. Being aware of the signs and causes can help cat owners get their pet the right treatment to maintain their quality of life.

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