Aside from knowing that you can usually smell their food and that they have sharp teeth, are you entirely aware of what happens within your cat's mouth? Our Montecito veterinarians discuss some interesting facts related to your cat's teeth and dental care.
Human teeth and cat teeth are similar
While being very different creatures, humans and cats actually have similarities when it comes to teeth, we are both diphyodont animals. Diphyodont means that we have two successive sets of teeth. When we are babies we have our initial deciduous (baby) set of teeth grow in then as we age that set falls out and our new permanent adult teeth emerge.
One thing that is different however is how quickly this process happens. While cats are also born without teeth, it only takes them until they are around 3 months old for their permanent teeth to begin to erupt. They also have more baby teeth than humans at 26 while we only have 20 baby teeth and cats only have 30 adult teeth while humans have more at 32.
Cats have the teeth of a predator
Your cat’s teeth are a distinctive crown shape that is made for tearing and ripping apart their prey like a wild jungle cat.
Your cat's canine teeth are also designed specifically to be able to puncture through the skin of their prey which is why it can hurt so much when they bite you.
Not all teeth serve the same purpose
Not all of your cat's teeth are used to hunting and eating. Your cat has incisors at the front of their mouth between the fangs.
These teeth are very useful for picking up items and accomplishing tasks such as cleaning thoroughly and chewing on their claws.
Cats don't experience cavities
Because cats do not have occlusal tables, which are the horizontal surfaces of the teeth, they are unable to develop cavities as humans do. The different shape of your cat's teeth means that they do not have any surface area on their teeth for any sugar-eating bacteria to stick to.
Cavities are also unheard of in cats due to the type of diet that they have.
Cats can suffer from other dental concerns
While they may not experience cavities, cats are susceptible to periodontal disease as well as severe oral inflammation and even oral cancer.
Another very uncomfortable condition that your cat may experience is tooth resorption. With tooth resorption, the structures of the teeth are resorbed and their bodies replace the teeth with a bone-like material.
The diagnosis of tooth resorption can be difficult as there are a number of hard to distinguish symptoms that could be related such as a hole in the tooth or a little red dot on the gum line. If there is a concern about tooth resorption then your vet will most likely recommend a tooth extraction.
Cats won't show signs of dental pain
Unfortunately, with cats being predatory creatures they are highly unlikely to show any signs that they are experiencing pain.
It is important as a cat parent that you stay aware of various signs and symptoms such as drooling, red gums and changes in a cat’s eating habits and the smell of their breath and bring them into your vet for cat dental care at the first sign of an issue.
Your cat will still eat after having their teeth removed
While all cat parents try to ensure that they maintain a consistent routine of cat dental care there may still be circumstances that arise where your cat will need to have tooth extractions. If this happens you will not need to worry about whether or not your cat will be able to eat as most cats eat just fine after having teeth removed, some cats even manage to continue to eat dry food just fine.
Protection and preventive pet dental care is a top priority and while we always hope to save the teeth just may not always be possible. It is important that your cat always live a safe and pain-free life.
Cats require routine dental care
Daily tooth brushing and routine cat dental care will help to prevent a possible buildup of bacteria that can cause many dental concerns.
While brushing may not be every cat's favorite time of day it is possible to train your cat to be accustomed to routine at-home pet dental care. By starting your cat off as young as possible for at-home care you are ensuring that you can provide a lifetime of necessary dental care.