Feline Oral Health: Teething and Resorption

cat oral healthA healthy cat must have a healthy mouth. Kittens can easily be trained to allow, and may even come to enjoy, dental care such as tooth brushing. Kittens need to be monitored for dental issues and changes at least weekly to catch any problems that may arise early enough to correct them.

Teething is an almost constant process between two and seven months of age. As teething progresses, you may find tiny tooth crowns in the kitten’s bedding, on the floor, or near the food dish. (However, most kittens swallow the crowns while eating and they pass harmlessly through the digestive system.) The tooth’s roots are not found as the kitten’s body resorbs the roots of the first set to allow the adult teeth to push out the smaller teeth and take their place.

Occasionally a tooth root is incompletely resorbed and the adult tooth behind it has to erupt at an abnormal angle or position. This crowding or malpositioning can cause pain, advanced tooth decay, infection, and disrupt proper jawbone growth. All of these complications can lead to a refusal to eat and life-long pain and dietary difficulties. Extraction is usually required to remove the retained baby tooth and allow the adult tooth room to grow into the correct position. Early intervention can prevent painful complications and further malformations. Delayed intervention often requires additional extractions and orthodontic treatment to realign the remaining adult teeth.

Inspecting your kitten’s mouth weekly during the teething process will allow you to follow the process and see if any teeth are retained. The upper canines are the most commonly retained teeth, followed by the lower canines and incisors.

A cat that is sufficiently trained to accept dental cleanings and care will be in less danger of dental diseases. Start inspecting your kitten’s mouth as soon as possible and continue to do so on a definite schedule.

For more information about feline dental health, please contact us.