By four weeks of age, kittens have their incisors, the 12 small teeth in the front of the mouth. At six weeks, all 26 deciduous teeth are in.
Kitten teeth should be white and clean with the upper incisors meeting the lower incisors evenly. The gums and mouth tissue should be pink, or dark pigmented; a pale color is a sign of anemia.
If possible, accustom your kitten to having its teeth cleaned on a regular basis at home. Gently rub the pet’s teeth with your finger. As he/she learns to accept this, use a soft cloth or a child’s soft toothbrush dipped in a solution of baking soda and water or use toothpaste, especially for cats. Do not use toothpaste formulated for humans. Because cats swallow rather than spit out the preparation, this can cause upset stomach.
Occassionally a kitten will retain some deciduous (baby) teeth after the permanent teeth have appeared. This may damage the soft tissues of the mouth and may even accelerate wear of permanent teeth. A veterinarian should be consulted to determine whether or not removal is necessary.
Inspect your cat’s mouth regularly for tartar buildup or a condition of the gums and brush your cat’s teeth with the proper brush and toothpaste (made specifically for cats) once or twice a week. Consult with your veterinarian about the correct home-cleaning process or professional cleaning.
Dry, crunchy foods can be helpful in keeping teeth clean (such as Purina DH Diet or T/D Feline Dental Health ) by scraping against the teeth and acting like a toothbrush to help remove plaque. Still, there is no substitute for regular dental care.
Lesions on your cat’s gums or foul-smelling breath can be early warning sings of a potential problem. The most common dental problems cats experience result from plaque and calculus buildup. If left unchecked, plaque and calculus buildup can eventually cause inflammation of both the gums (gingivitis) and the membrane lining of the tooth socket (periodontitis).
The infection resulting from these conditions may spread to other parts of the body such as the kidneys or valves of the heart.
Dental problems may also result from injury, foreign bodies such as procupine quills or foxtail, malnutrition, or systemic health conditions that infect the mouth as well as other parts of the body.
Common warning signs of dental problems in cats include:
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Loss of appetite/reluctant to chew food
- Dark spots on molars
- Raised sores in mouth
- Chattering or grinding teeth
- Facial swelling (under eyes and jaw)
- Lethargy (loss of energy from not eating)
Do you think your kitten is experiencing dental health issues? Let us take a look. Click here to request a consultation.