When cat teeth are falling out, it is often a cause for major concern to the owner. If a cat has teeth that are falling out, it can either be a completely normal process or one indicating that an underlying health condition exists. In order to determine whether the problem is serious or not, cat owners should first understand why a cat's teeth might fall out and what warning signs to look for.
Biology of Cat Teeth
Cats are biologically made with two sets of teeth: milk teeth and adult teeth. Kittens are born with their milk teeth, which allow them to latch onto the nipple and are only made to comfortably handle mother's milk. These teeth are barely strong enough to chew food and typically fall out around 6 months of age. Most cat owners usually don't notice when a kitten's milk teeth fall out because it's normal for the kitten to swallow them.
After the milk teeth have fallen out, a cat develops a new set of adult teeth. These teeth are designed to chew dry food, bones, mice and any other tough form of sustenance. They are much more durable in nature and will remain for the life of the cat.
In short, if you notice that your kitten's teeth are falling out, it is typically not a cause for concern or a condition that requires medical treatment.
Feline Dental Disease
Feline dental disease is a true medical condition and one of the leading causes of cat teeth falling out. It typically occurs as the result of tartar buildup on the teeth, which cats are very sensitive to and somewhat prone to. This tartar buildup often causes irritation of the gums, in turn causing the root of the tooth to become exposed. Signs of feline dental disease include:
- Red, irritated appearance of the gums
- Bad breath
- Rotten appearance of teeth
As the process of feline dental disease continues, it can lead to rotting of the teeth. When the teeth have rotted beyond repair, they often fall out, and this is sometimes the first sign of feline dental disease that cat owners notice.
Other times, the cause of cat teeth falling out can simply be due to age progression, usually at the age of 10 years or more. When this occurs, there typically aren't any other noticeable signs other than the teeth actually falling out. Most older cats continue to eat normally and do not give any other warning signs to indicate a medical condition.
As a cat ages, the gums can become loose, just as other systems of the body become weaker as a result of age. The gums are made to be tight structures that hold both the root and the structure of the tooth firmly in place, but as age progression occurs and the gums become weaker, they may not be able to effectively hold the teeth in place, essentially causing them to fall out.