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The Cat's Mouth: Dental Facts
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
Teeth
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Illustration of cat mouth
  • Kittens have 26 temporary teeth, 14 in the upper jaw and 12 in the lower jaw. These deciduous teeth begin to erupt at about two to four weeks of age.

  • Cats have 30 permanent teeth, 16 on the top and 14 on the bottom. These emerge at about three to four months of age.

  • Cats have 2 permanent teeth that have 3 roots each, and 10 teeth that each have 2 roots.

  • The hair-like structures on the rough tongue of a cat are called 'papillae' and aid in grooming.

  • The first symptom of a fractured upper canine tooth (the large fang) in a cat may be sneezing.

  • The most common oral tumor in cats is squamous cell carcinoma. These tumors often start under the tongue.

  • Studies show that 70 percent of cats show signs of gum disease (gingivitis) by age three. Symptoms include yellow and brown build-up of tartar along the gumline, red inflamed gums, and persistent bad breath.

  • Oral disease is a common finding in cats infected with feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and feline calicivirus (FCV).

  • Feline dental resorption lesions, commonly called cervical line lesions or neck lesions are the most common dental disease of domestic cats, and the most common cause of tooth loss. The lesions often begin below the gumline, so they may develop undetected.

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