Understanding Your Cat's Teeth: Types, Functions, and Common Problems

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Have you ever wondered how many teeth your cat has? You might be surprised to know that your furry friend has 30 teeth in total, just two fewer than humans. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the different types of teeth cats have and their functions, as well as some common dental problems that cats may experience.

Types of teeth in cats

Cats have four different types of teeth: incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. Here’s a breakdown of each type:

Incisors:

Cats have 12 incisors, which are the small, flat teeth at the front of their mouths. These teeth are used for biting and grooming.

Canines:

The four sharp canines are located at the corners of the mouth, and are used for biting and tearing prey.

Premolars:

Cats have 10 premolars, which are larger than the incisors and canines. These teeth are used for chewing and grinding.

a black cat showing her teeth
I may be small; but lethal

Molars:

The four molars are located at the back of the mouth, and are used for grinding food.

What Human Teeth and Cat Teeth Have In Common?

Cats have 26 baby teeth and 30 permanent teeth, with a full set of permanent teeth by 6 months of age. The crown shapes of cat teeth reflect the function of a true carnivore. In comparison, humans have 20 baby teeth and 32 permanent teeth, and dogs have 28 baby teeth and 42 permanent teeth. Like humans, cats have two different sets of teeth, with the first set being milk or deciduous teeth. The first milk teeth to come through are usually the incisors – 6 upper and 6 lower, and cats lose their baby teeth at around 6-9 months of age. Cat teeth are optimized for hunting, with each type of tooth serving a different function in the chewing process.

a kitten showing her teeth
I may be small; but lethal II

Common dental problems in cats

Just like humans, cats can experience a variety of dental problems throughout their lives. Here are some of the most common dental issues that cats may experience:

Periodontal disease:

This is a bacterial infection of the gums and tissues that surround the teeth. Symptoms include bad breath, red or bleeding gums, and loose teeth.


Tooth resorption:

This is a painful condition in which the tooth’s structure breaks down, leading to loss of the tooth. Symptoms include difficulty eating and drooling.

 

Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs):

These are painful lesions that form on the teeth, usually at the gum line. Symptoms include difficulty eating and pawing at the mouth.

Gingivitis:

This is inflammation of the gums, which can lead to periodontal disease if left untreated. Symptoms include red, swollen, and bleeding gums.

Keeping your cat’s teeth healthy

Brush your cat’s teeth regularly:

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste specifically designed for cats. Start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you spend brushing.

Feed your cat a balanced diet:

A healthy diet can help keep your cat’s teeth healthy too. Try to avoid feeding them too many sugary treats, which can contribute to dental problems.

Visit the vet regularly:

Regular checkups with your vet can help catch dental problems early and prevent them from getting worse.

a cat looking up to its owner who is brushing teeth
Can you brush mine too, Mum!!

In conclusion, cats have 30 teeth in total, including incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. Taking care of your cat’s teeth is important to prevent dental problems like periodontal disease, tooth resorption, FORLs, and gingivitis. By following these tips, you can help keep your furry friend’s teeth healthy and strong.

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