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Kittens will have two sets of teeth in their lifetime, which means they go through the teething process twice. Teething can be mild to moderately painful for a kitten. During this time, pet parents may notice some negative behaviors from their kitten, such as biting. Thankfully, the teething process doesn't take long.
The first set of teeth is their deciduous teeth or baby teeth. These teeth begin erupting through the gum line around two weeks of age. By six weeks, kittens usually have all 26 of their baby teeth. Pet parents may not realize the kitten is teething during this time because the kittens are so young and spend most of their time in the care of their mother.
Around 12 weeks of age, the adult teeth begin to come in, and the baby teeth will fall out. The adult teeth are the kitten's permanent teeth for the rest of their life. By six months of age, kittens usually have all 30 adult teeth.
Excessive biting is the most common clinical sign that a kitten is teething. During both teething times, a kitten will have the urge to bite and chew. They will bite anything and everything, including:
Their pet parents
Like puppies, pet parents should be prepared for their kittens to bite anything they can get their mouth around when they're teething. Pet parents can offer their kittens a toy to redirect their attention to help stop them from biting and chewing on people and other animals.
Other clinical signs of a teething kitten can include:
Loss of appetite
Slight bleeding from the gums
Pawing at their mouth
Cats are strict carnivores, and their teeth are designed to cut through meat and bone. They have incredibly sharp teeth, and some toys become choking hazards if the kitten manages to bite off chunks. Also, toys that are too hard can break the kitten's teeth. Safe kitten teething toys include the following:
Kong brand teething toys
Fabric catnip toys
Pet parents can also make a teething toy by tying a rag into a knot and soaking it in chicken broth. Next, put the rag in the freezer. The coldness of the rag will soothe the kitten's gums and provide something tasty to bite.
Occasionally, a kitten will have a baby tooth that doesn't fall out. This tooth is called a persistent deciduous tooth and can cause many secondary health problems. When a kitten has a persistent deciduous tooth, the adult teeth will erupt in random places. If the adult teeth don't align correctly, the kitten can develop some of the following secondary conditions in adulthood:
Most of the time, a persistent deciduous tooth is caught early at the kitten's regular vet check-up. The tooth can be removed before causing any problems with the adult teeth, but removal usually requires surgery.
As cats age, their teeth can accumulate tarter, and their gums become inflamed with gingivitis. Tartar and gingivitis are indications of harmful bacteria in the cat's gums. This bacteria can cause problems with the cat's liver and kidneys. Renal (kidney) failure is the number one cause of death in senior cats.
Dental care is essential for keeping cats healthy. Many pet parents believe their cat won't let them clean their teeth, but starting a dental care routine with a kitten is the best way to ensure the cat maintains a healthy mouth. Trying a dental routine with an adult cat can be more challenging but not impossible.
Proper cat dental care includes:
A high-quality diet
Regular vet check-ups
Occasional dental cleaning
When purchasing dental care items for their cats, pet parents should make sure they're buying cat-specific items. Pet parents should never use human toothpaste to brush their cat's teeth, as it can be toxic to cats.
Finally, pet parents should read the labels when purchasing high-quality foods and treats. Foods and treats made with poor quality ingredients and artificial additives may not provide the cat with proper nutrition. If cats don't get the correct amount of essential nutrients, their dental health will be negatively affected.
Pet parents who want more information about cat and kitten dental health can speak with the Fuzzy veterinary support team 24/7 via Vet Chat.