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What You Wanted To Know About Cat Teeth

Like our own teeth, cat teeth are quite similar. They consist of 4 incisors, 2 canine, 4 premolars and 3 molars on each upper and lower jaw. The incisors meet and grip which is perfect for tearing meat close to the bone. The canines also help to grip onto their meet and penetrate the prey, preventing its escape and killing it.

Cats are carnivores and because of this, cat teeth have particular teeth called Carnassial teeth. These teeth are located at the 4th premolar on the top jaw and on the 1st molar on the bottom jaw. These teeth are massive and shaped as such the teeth are very sharp which pass and cut, holding flesh and bones as they do so. The role of the molars in cat teeth is to meet and crush the bones and flesh into smaller particles before swallowing.

Just like human teeth, cat teeth are at risk of plaque. Plaque is a sticky bacteria that adheres to the tooth and if not cleaned away, it will form into tartar. Tartar is yellow in colour and very hard to remove. When this happens, your veterinarian will usually recommend to bring your cat in for a dental where they will sedate your cat and clean the cat teeth with an ultrasonic scaling device, just as you would if you visited your dental hygienist.

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If tartar is present for a long time, then more and more bacteria get trapped around the gum line. Eventually this will irritate the gums and make them red and swollen. This is called gingivitis. Gingivitis deteriorates gum health which is essential for healthy teeth. The condition is often painless, but after some time, the teeth will loosen, become sensitive and rot. For cat teeth, this usually means sedation, a dental and extractions of the unhealthy teeth.

The first sign usually seen with tartar build up or the rotting of teeth can go unseen as it probably isn’t a regular occurrence for you as the owner to look at cat teeth. The dead give-away is usually bad breath! When your cat is relaxed you can check his teeth just by simply gently pulling his lips up and out. Never pull on the whiskers to do this otherwise, you will never be allowed to do this ever again!

You can help combat this ongoing battle by getting your kitten used to using a cat toothbrush and toothpaste designed for your kitten. Attend regular checkups with your veterinarian and change to a high quality diet such as Science Diet, Royal Canin or similar as most of these high quality foods can cost similar to the cheaper supermarket diets but have a special formulation to help prevent tartar build up on cat teeth.

For combatting bad breath, there are always new gimicks out on the market, such as treats with tartar control or cleaning properties in them, even now a additive to use in your cats water bowl to help keep your cats breath smelling sweet, but this will not work if your cat teeth are not looked after.

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