Introduction to kitten teething
Much like us, baby kittens are born without teeth. Their first baby teeth appear when they are around 2-4 weeks of age. These deciduous milk teeth will fall out when they are 3.5 – 4 months old, and the kitten’s permanent adult teeth then grow in.
This means that kittens teethe twice in their lives – once for their set of 26 baby teeth and again when their 30 adult teeth come through. Teething does not typically cause a kitten any pain, but they may feel a bit sore as their sharp new teeth emerge from their gums. Compared to puppies, kittens will not engage in as much haphazard chewing throughout their teething process. You should still provide them with appropriate chew toys so they are not tempted to gnaw on other objects.
Signs your kitten is teething:
- Missing teeth – you may come across lost teeth on your floor or never find them at all. Don’t worry, it’s common for kittens to swallow their baby teeth and is not a health concern
- Pawing at the mouth and shaking their heads – your kitten may be trying to dislodge a loose tooth
- Increased chewing – eases some of the pressure from the teeth emerging
- Kitten is more irritable – they may be grumpy because of their sore mouth and gums
- Reduced appetite – try feeding your kitten canned food which is much easier for them to chew
- Slight gum bleeding – you may see specks of blood in their food or water bowls
- Face sensitivity – discomfort when you touch their face
- Decreased grooming activity – a common sign that your cat is experiencing oral discomfort
When is it necessary to see the vet?
If baby teeth have not fallen out when adult teeth are emerging, this can cause problems including cracked teeth and misalignments. Look out for overcrowding in their mouths, like the appearance of two rows of teeth.
Symptoms of infection in your kitten’s mouth may include red, inflamed gums with discharge, which will require veterinary treatment.
Overall, trust your instincts. Your kitten may exhibit some abnormal behaviours while they are teething, but if you have any concerns as a pet parent, you should make the call to book in an appointment at your local Greencross Vets.
What to expect at the dental checkup
The vet will check your kitten for:
- Malocclusions – this means a misalignment of the teeth, such as the top and bottom sections not fitting together, which will affect your kitten’s ability to eat in the future
- Retained deciduous teeth – when baby teeth do not fall out properly, this prevents the adult teeth from growing correctly. The vet will extract the baby tooth
- Teeth growing in the right direction – not cutting the inside of the mouth or getting in the way of other teeth
- Gum disease – kittens can develop gingivitis which affects the gums and teeth below the gum line
- Broken and fractured teeth – these can easily become infected
- Plaque and tartar build up – this can lead to further dental disease, so it’s best to prevent these issues by making dental care a part of your kitten’s care routine when they are young
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