Do you know how many teeth a kitten has at different ages of his life? How many teeth will that kitten have once he is an adult cat? Is there anything we, as caregivers can do to help cats have good oral and dental health later in life? Keep reading for answers to these questions and more.
In young kittens, the number of teeth present, and the degree to which they’ve erupted or grown in, can help us accurately determine a kitten’s age. When kittens are born, they don’t have any teeth present, but within only two to three weeks their incisors will start coming in. The incisors are the small teeth across the front of the mouth: six on the top, six on the bottom. Then, at about three weeks, their canine teeth erupt, or start poking out through their gums. These are the long, pointed teeth at the front ‘corners’ of the mouth: two on the top, two on the bottom.
At about five to six weeks of age, the kittens’ premolars come in. These are chewing teeth along the sides. Six on top (three on each side) and four on the bottom (two on each side). It may take a week or so for these premolars to fully grow in after erupting through the gums. Have you been adding them up? The kitten now has 26 teeth by about seven to eight weeks of age. Then, at about three months of age, the kitten’s adult, or permanent teeth start coming in. Those teeth will erupt in the same order and replace the deciduous or kitten teeth.
You may find a kitten tooth that has fallen out during this time, but often the deciduous teeth come out when the kitten is eating and are simply swallowed and passed in the stool. In addition to replacing the 26 deciduous teeth, the kitten will also grow four additional teeth as she becomes an adult. These are molars located behind the premolars. Two on the top, (one on each side) and two on the bottom (one on each side) bringing the total count to 30 teeth for the adult cat (or kitten 6-8 month of age and older).
As kitten caregivers, it is important to start the kitten off right and to get the kitten used to having her teeth brushed. There are a variety of feline dental health products that you can try. Talk with your veterinarian about what might work best for you and your kitten. Of course, as you know, the kitten’s deciduous teeth with fall out, so brushing isn’t so much for the health of those teeth as it is for the behavioral benefit for the kitten to get him used to the idea and process of having his teeth brushed. Use feline-safe products only. NEVER use human toothpaste with pets as some ingredients in human products can be dangerous for our furry friends and family members. Getting your kittens used to brushing at an early age, will help them later in life as an adult to accept regular teeth brushing, resulting in fewer dental and oral health problems and perhaps fewer trips to the veterinarian for dental cleanings or extractions.
As with any animal, always be careful around their teeth. Kittens have needle-sharp teeth that can accidentally scratch or puncture skin while brushing the kitten’s teeth. So, be sure to use the right products for the job and learn the correct procedures for brushing to keep you and the kitten happy and safe.