How to Care for Kittens’ Milk Teeth and Permanent Teeth

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

02 April 2019

Illustration of dentist cat

Kittens’ baby teeth (milk teeth)
Kittens are born without teeth and the first teeth — normally the incisors in the front of the mouth — start to show when they are about two weeks old. About two weeks later their fangs will start to grow and by the age of six weeks the premolars will appear. This total of 26 teeth are all deciduous teeth (also called “milk teeth”) that will be lost. A set of permanent teeth will replace them.

The kittens’ teeth irritates the mother cat when the kittens are nursing and this is when weaning slowly starts. If you are caring for an orphaned kitten and isn’t sure how old they are, you can always go on their teeth. Their teeth will also let you know when it’s time to stop feeding them kitten milk replacement formula and only feed them wet and dry kitten food.

Generally, kittens start to loose their baby teeth at about three months of age (11 weeks) and ends by six to nine months of age. Some signs that your kitten has started to lose their milk teeth, are:

  • Their gums are sore
  • They drool a bit
  • They have some difficulty chewing food
  • They don’t want to play games where they have to use their mouth much.
During this time, make sure that your kitten has enough soft food to eat — either wet food, or kibble mixed with a little water (you also wouldn’t like eating crunchy food with sore gums!) and avoid brushing their teeth or gums. This is because they could start to associate brushing teeth with pain. Rather wait for all the milk teeth to have fallen out before brushing again.

Kittens’ permanent teeth
There will be 30 permanent teeth -
  • The first teeth at about 11 weeks
  • Permanent incisors at four months
  • Canines at five months
  • Premolars by six months
  • Permanent molars in place by adulthood
After losing one or more baby teeth, the spot where the tooth was should heal quite quickly. The adult teeth will be more dense, bright white and much larger than the baby teeth.

Caring for your kitten’s teeth
When your kitten loses their teeth, be sure to keep an eye out that all the baby teeth fall out and is replaced. If a tooth (usually the canine teeth) doesn’t fall out, it’s called Retained Deciduous Teeth and it needs vet intervention to make sure that the permanent teeth can grow in properly.
Removing the baby tooth also prevents breakage or infection of the baby teeth. It is important to note that, should your kitten swallow one or more of the baby teeth as they fall out, you need not be worried as they shouldn’t cause any problems.  

When to see the vet
  • If the baby tooth remains in tact next to the permanent adult tooth for more than a week.
  • At about 6-8 months of age to make sure that all the teeth are in good order.
  • In the case of “occlusion”, where one part of the jaw grows more than the other and a tooth ends up jabbing into the kitten’s palate, for instance.
  • In the case of any sores in your kitten’s mouth as this may point to another illness or infection.

Brushing your kitten’s teeth
Get kittens used to you handling their face and mouth lightly before attempting to brush their teeth — and never brush milk teeth.
Once their adult teeth have grown and the vet gives the go-ahead that you can start brushing, get a special cat toothbrush and toothpaste in a tasty flavour. Never use those meant for people!
  • Wash your hands before brushing your kitten’s teeth
  • Pull back their lips and apply the bristles to the teeth at a 45 degree angle
  • Use small circular motions on the outside surfaces.

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