Johnny makes a mess eating his breakfast. Food falls out of his mouth and all over the place. After peering into his mouth you realize he’s lost some teeth. Sometimes losing front teeth, or any others, is perfectly natural, but it may also be a sign of something serious.
Kittens lose their baby or deciduous teeth when big-kitty teeth start growing in. This happens somewhere between 11 and 30 weeks of age. Johnny may look a little awkward with his front teeth missing; however, his grownup teeth should be set in by the time he’s 6 months old, according to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
If Johnny is out of his baby stage, he may be losing teeth due to periodontal disease. This condition causes layers of plaque to build up on his teeth, allowing bacteria to grow. His gums become red and swollen and may even bleed. As his gums soften, his teeth may fall out or become so loose they need to be extracted by a veterinarian. Older cats and certain breeds, including Persian, Siamese, Abyssinian and Maine coon cats, are more likely to have gum and tooth problems, but periodontal disease can affect any cat at any age.
Sadly, your mischievous furry friend can lose his front teeth when they break off. A vicious fight with the neighborhood tomcat or being hit by a car can damage his fangs, cracking them severely enough that they break right out of his mouth. Feline teeth are very fragile. Although this is rare, kitties can also break teeth simply by chewing their dry kibble.
Although you can’t avoid every problem, you can certainly take special care of Johnny’s teeth to help minimize his chances of suffering from mouth pain and loss of teeth. Pick up a feline dental care kit and start brushing his teeth every day. He may not like it at first, but with a little practice and patience he’ll learn to accept that it’s part of his daily routine. Have your veterinarian show you how to keep Johnny’s teeth clean and pearly white. He’ll be less likely to lose teeth from gum disease later on in life.
Feeding him a dental diet and hard treats can also help scrape his teeth clean, although you don’t want to make any changes to his diet without consulting a professional first.
Dental problems are quite common among the feline population. A mere 10 percent of all kitties make it through life without them, explains Dr. Daniel Carmichael, a New York–based veterinarian. If you notice any teeth missing, see blood in his mouth or if Johnny drools excessively, get him in for an exam as soon as possible so your vet can save any healthy teeth. If left untreated, severe gum disease can lead to chronic conditions, including heart problems.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.