When the kitten is born, it has no teeth. Gradually, from about 3 weeks of age, the cat’s baby teeth begin to appear.
When the cat is ready to move away from home at about 12 weeks of age, it normally has 26 baby teeth. The baby teeth will then be replaced by the permanent teeth during the tooth change phase which lasts between about 4 months and 6 months of age. An adult cat has 30 permanent teeth. We recommend that a veterinarian check if your teeth have been replaced when your cat is 6 months old.
Sometimes one or more baby teeth can remain even after the permanent teeth have erupted. They are then called persistent milk teeth. These teeth should be pulled out as they can prevent the permanent teeth from growing out to their correct position and thus lead to bite defects.
If a baby tooth is to be fractured, broken off, it is important to have a veterinarian examine the kitten. A broken baby tooth can be a gateway for bacteria into the jawbone and cause an infection around the root of the baby tooth. Before the permanent teeth erupt, the dental system is waiting in the area for the roots of the baby teeth. An infection in that area can cause severe damage to the permanent tooth’s attachment, or even destroy it completely. For this reason, we usually recommend that a fractured deciduous tooth be extracted.
It is good to get the cat used to brushing your teeth already as a child. Even if the baby teeth will come loose and be replaced by the permanent teeth, it is good that the cat has got used to the routine and the toothbrushing works when the permanent teeth are in place.