Many new kitten owners are surprised to learn that kittens have “baby” teeth, just like we do. These teeth are properly called deciduous teeth, and they are not present at birth. At 2-3 weeks of age, the small incisor teeth appear at the front of the mouth, at around 4 weeks of age the canine teeth (fangs) have emerged, and by 6 weeks of age, the teeth at the back of the mouth (premolars) have emerged. Kittens have a total of 26 deciduous teeth.
The deciduous teeth begin to fall out and are replaced by the permanent adult teeth from 11 to 24 weeks of age. The incisor teeth are the first ones to fall out, between 11 and 16 weeks of age, followed by the canine teeth at 12 to 20 weeks of age, then the premolar teeth at 16-20 weeks of age. Finally, at weeks 20-24, the molar teeth emerge.
When kittens are losing their deciduous teeth, they may spit them out, so don’t be alarmed if you find a tooth somewhere in your house! It’s just a normal part of your kitten growing up. Save the baby tooth in your scrapbook or leave it for the tooth fairy! Otherwise, kittens may swallow the teeth as they fall out and they will pass through their digestive tract without harm.
Kittens may have some mild discomfort when they are teething. Giving them soft toys to bite and play with may help. You may want to avoid handling their mouth or trying to brush their teeth during this time. Sometimes, kittens may have problems with their deciduous teeth that require veterinary attention, which may include broken teeth, or retained deciduous teeth, which is when the deciduous teeth do not fall out on their own. In these cases, it may be necessary to extract the broken or retained tooth. Kitten exams are done with each booster vaccination visit and will include an inspection of your kitten’s teeth to look for any of these problems.
Written by Tiffany Lennox, DVM