What is Missing Teeth?
Cats develop baby teeth as kittens at around 4 to 6 weeks of age. They will then lose their baby teeth and by the age of six months, they will have their permanent adult teeth. Cats should not lose their teeth, though it is not unusual for it to happen. Cats can lose teeth for the following reasons:
The seriousness of your cat losing his teeth will depend on why they are being lost, along with what is going on in his mouth. Should your cat lose one or more teeth, you should bring him to the veterinarian for an examination so that any issues can be resolved.
Why Missing Teeth Occurs in Cats
Your cat may have lost a tooth (or more than one tooth) for any of the following reasons:
Your cat can experience an injury that has led to his tooth becoming loose and falling out. Trauma from a fall or vehicular collision are two ways that a feline can incur serious injury that may involve tooth loss. A veterinary visit should always be made after a pet experiences a traumatic event.
What your cat is eating can result in his losing his teeth. It is important to note that cats do not have true grinding surfaces on their teeth and their natural diet is meat, not food that is dry or canned. It is a myth that regular dry cat food cleans your cat’s teeth; in fact, the build-up that occurs on his teeth when your cat eats either canned or dry food can lead to dental issues as plaque is more likely to form. This includes periodontal disease, gingivitis and odontoclastic resorptive lesions.
Periodontal disease is the result of plaque and tartar collecting around your cat’s teeth and gums. When it combines with bacteria, a plaque is formed and will result in tartar. Once tartar infiltrates the gums they become inflamed; the gums are tender and can separate from your cat’s teeth. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums that occurs prior to developing into periodontal disease. Gingivitis can be treated so that it does not progress. Odontoclastic resorptive lesions are quite painful and can cause permanent damage to the tooth that is affected, ultimately leading to its decay.
What to do if your Cat is Missing Teeth
It is important to pay attention to your cat’s mouth and symptoms of possible issues. You will want to watch for the following in your cat:
- Bad breath
- A lot of saliva
- Bleeding gums or gums that are red and swollen
- Receding gums
- Plaque on his teeth (plaque is white and soft and able to be removed from his tooth)
- Tartar on his teeth (this is where plaque has become harder and will need to be removed by your veterinarian)
- A cracked tooth or teeth
- Diminished or loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Pawing at his mouth (this may point to pain in his mouth)
If you notice any of these signs and/or your cat loses a tooth, you will want to schedule an examination with your veterinarian.
Your veterinarian will conduct a physical examination, paying close attention to your cat’s mouth and teeth. Should there be plaque present, your veterinarian can clean your cat’s teeth to avoid problems in the future. If your veterinarian determines that there is an infection present, he may prescribe an antibiotic. Depending upon the examination, your veterinarian may consider radiography in order to see if any teeth need to be extracted. This may be necessary if the infection has spread so that your cat can avoid developing a generalized infection. Filings may be an option for teeth that have cracked.
All dental treatments will be conducted under anesthesia. It is important for your cat to receive treatment as any bacteria involved in dental disease can make its way through his bloodstream and affect his heart, kidneys and liver.
Prevention of Missing Teeth
A good way to ensure your cat’s dental health is to brush his teeth on a daily basis either with a finger brush or special toothbrush. This will benefit his teeth and gums. There is special toothpaste for cats that should be used; using your toothpaste may lead to toxicity in your cat. You can also take him for an annual cleaning with your veterinarian in order to remove the plaque and tartar.
There are certain foods that your veterinarian may be able to recommend that reduce tartar. Dental formula food that is hard and dry can help in preventing plaque as it will require your cat to chew and it will rub his teeth. Chewing on toys can also help; this is especially useful if your cat will not tolerate your brushing his teeth. Using soft cotton, you can massage your cat’s gums on a weekly basis to help your cat avoid developing gingivitis; it will also help you notice gum inflammation so that you can catch any issues before they worsen.
Keeping your cat indoors is the best way to help him avoid injury that could lead to his losing any teeth.
Cost of Missing Teeth
The cost of your cat missing teeth will depend upon the reason for the teeth either falling out or requiring removal. In the case of gum disease, the cost can be anywhere from $400 to $1200, depending upon the extent of the condition as well as the cost of living where your cat is being treated.
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Missing Teeth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
domestic short hair
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Hi I have an aprox. 1 1/2 yr old cat who 2 nights ago apparently lost a fang tooth. She is now like "clapping or chattering her lips together but is eating, drinking, is a little "Sleepy" but I owe that to the warm to hot weather. Should I worry about the tooth loss and Chattering of the lips or will it pass? Thank you ps. she was a rescue that prematurely had kittens and we were thinking that perhaps she was losing teeth late due to the excessive energy used at giving birth prior to rescue? Its almost like she is sucking, as if there might be a bit of blood but besides one spot found there is no other?
July 9, 2018
It is more important to determine why Petulla lost a tooth at such a young age, I would recommend visiting your Veterinarian for a dental x-ray to check the overall health of the jaw as it may be a sign of an underlying condition. If the tooth was lost traumatically, then there may be some residual pain and this may lead to some strange behaviour however please visit your Veterinarian for an examination to ensure that there isn’t an underlying condition and to ensure the whole tooth came out. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
July 10, 2018
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I have a cat that lost his baby teeth when he was 3 months old. He is now 9 months old and his permanent teeth still haven't grown in. There is no swollen gums, bad breath, or open sores in his mouth. Just no teeth.
July 7, 2018
Edward Jeffery's Owner
Missing teeth may occur for a variety of reasons, but the first step here would be to have a dental x-ray done to look at what may be occurring below the gumline; it is possible that no teeth would be found but it is important to check. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
July 8, 2018
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