Felines are carnivorous animals with 30 adult teeth in comparison to humans who have 32 teeth. Kittens have 26 deciduous teeth, also known as milk or primary teeth. Cats’ teeth are designed for eating meat and are optimised for hunting. The maintenance of healthy teeth is key for our cats to live happy, healthy lives.
Types of Teeth
Feline teeth are highly evolved to help them hunt, kill, eat and take care of themselves. Cats have incisors, canines, premolars, molars, and carnassial teeth. The fourth maxillary (upper jaw) premolar and first mandibular (lower jaw) molar are called carnassial teeth. All of their teeth are useful in different and important ways.
Incisors are the small sharp, teeth found at the front of the jaw. Each of the twelve incisors has a singular root. Though these tiny teeth do not help with hunting, they are quite useful for self-grooming and picking up objects.
Canines are large, curved, sharp, fang-like teeth. They are the longest teeth and have a singular root like the incisors. Cats use their canine teeth for grasping and shredding meat.
Premolars and Molars
Felines are unable to chew on their food like we can as they can only move their mouths up and down. The premolars and molars are flat teeth with two to three roots that help cats eat by crushing bone and breaking down food into chunks they can swallow.
The carnassial teeth, also known as the sectorial teeth, are the last upper premolar (third premolar) and first lower molar of the cat. These are the largest teeth of the feline and are sharp, jagged and pointy. The main purpose of the carnassial teeth is for grinding and cutting food.
Cats are notoriously secretive and independent animals. When they are in pain they rarely show it, and it is crucial for pet owners to maintain their cat’s oral health. The most common dental disease in cats is gingivitis which can lead to periodontitis. Some signs of periodontal disease to look out for include, red, swollen and bleeding gums, sneezing, nasal discharge, bad breath and visible plaque build-up.
Regular dental care and check-ups are very important to keep our cats healthy, happy and pain-free!