Tooth problems in cats

From teething and tartar to tooth fractures, cats can experience a broad range of tooth problems.

From a veterinary perspective, even cats’ teeth should be cleaned from time to time. For cats which tend to get more of a build-up of tartar this can have a positive effect on their dental health. Unfortunately, very few cats will allow anyone to brush their teeth. As an owner, therefore, it’s advisable to start early so your cat gets used to having its teeth brushed.

Avoiding tartar in cats

Tartar develops as a result of plaque on the surface of the teeth. Bacteria sticking to the teeth form a gel-like coating. Minerals from the saliva then get deposited in the coating. This causes layers of hard, yellow deposits to form, especially on the outer side of the molars. This can lead to irritation and inflammation of the gums and oral muscosa, bad breath, loosening and loss of teeth, and loss of appetite.

To prevent such consequences it is important to remove the bacteria and gel-coating from the teeth on a regular basis. Ideally, the animal will be familiarised with tooth brushing from an early age. Special toothpaste for animals or whiting is used. You can also cover your index finger with some gauze or cloth and use it to clean the teeth. In addition to this, providing your cat with dry food and chew-toys can also help to clean teeth. Simply try things out and see what works best for your pet.

Removing dental plaque

Dry food can have a mechanical effect, supporting teeth cleaning by removing dental plaque. Vitamin C also has an inhibitory effect on bacteria and, consequently, on the plaque which is formed. The mineral content in saliva, by contrast, cannot be influenced by the type of food given. If your cat is prone to tartar, you should have their teeth regularly cleaned by a vet using ultrasound to remove the plaque so that the teeth and gums stay healthy. Afterwards, the teeth surfaces are beautifully shiny and it is easier to keep them free from tartar build-up by means of regular care.


Kittens have no teeth when they are born. The first milk teeth come through after three to four weeks. After eight weeks the set of milk teeth, or primary dentition, is usually complete. The remaining teeth then begin to appear when the kitten is around three and a half months old. The changeover from milk teeth to adult teeth is known as secondary dentition and lasts a good two months.

During this time animals often eat slightly less and are generally more susceptible to illness. They can bleed slightly from the mouth and smell unpleasant. Although cats generally don’t experience significant problems during secondary dentition, you should keep a closer eye on their teeth.

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