Why Is My Cat’s Tooth Poking Its Lip?

cat tooth poking into lip

A cat’s tooth poking into its lip can be a troubling sight for any pet owner. This issue can cause discomfort and potentially lead to more serious health problems if left untreated.

Your cat can feel a great deal of pain and discomfort when it has one or more teeth poking into its lips. This problem can eventually lead to an infection and other health problems. Even though your cat might not seem to be in pain, it is best to seek veterinarian advice.

We’ll explain the causes behind this condition, possible complications and the best ways to resolve it to keep your cat healthy and happy.

Cat teeth dental chart

Loss Of A Tooth

Look at your cat’s lips and you’ll notice that they are pulled quite tightly to its face. The crown (or tip) of the canines (or fangs) will push your cat’s lip slightly outward, allowing the upper and lower canines to slide past each other without issues when the mouth closes.

If your cat is missing one of its canines, there is a tendency for the lip to sink inwards. When your cat closes its mouth, it will cause the opposing canine to poke or traumatize the lip resulting in redness and ulceration.

This can cause some bleeding to your cat’s lip and cause it to leave tiny blood spots around the house.

Some of these cats have learned over time to close their mouths without poking themselves in the lips but many do not.

When I adopted my cat from the local shelter, I noticed he had poor oral health. The vet diagnosed him with FeLV which can cause severe gingivitis and tooth decay.

After discussing options, the decision was made to extract his infected teeth to prevent further issues.

Now, my cat has only one remaining canine on the bottom left, which sometimes pokes into his upper lip, giving him a pirate-like appearance.

Arrrr…Ahoy Matey! (pic of my cat)

Malocclusion In Cats

Malocclusion in cats is caused when your cat’s teeth are misaligned. The cat’s upper and lower jaw are not able to close properly and this can lead to dental issues as the cat gets older.

Malocclusion in cats can be caused by the following:

  • Trauma to your cat’s mouth
  • Congenital abnormality
  • Improper growth of baby teeth

Based on my conversation with my vet, she says that many causes of malocclusion occur when the cat is still a kitten and during the baby teeth phase.

For the kitten’s adult teeth to grow, its baby teeth will have to fall out by the adult teeth growing up from the gingiva underneath and literally pushing the baby teeth out.

However, in some cats, there is a misalignment and the adult tooth will grow next to the baby tooth so that it is not pushed out.

This condition is problematic for cats because the tooth or teeth that are misaligned can rub or penetrate your cat’s gum tissue or lips. Doing so can be painful to your cat and affect its appetite. Having extra teeth is more surface area for bacteria and plaque to accumulate. 

There is more risk of tooth breakage as well when the dentition is misaligned.

Dental Misalignment

Genetics can cause dental misalignment in cats, as some breeds are more prone to inherited dental issues.

Certain breeds, especially those with squishy faces, have unique jaw structures like Persians and Siamese, are more prone to inheriting dental issues.

These genetic predispositions can cause teeth to grow at improper angles, leading to crowding or misalignment.

An injury or trauma to a cat’s face or jaw can also result in misaligned teeth. Young cats can be very energetic and can get into accidents at home.

A direct impact on the mouth area can shift teeth out of their normal position.

This misalignment can cause discomfort, such as a tooth poking into the cat’s lip, and may lead to further health issues if not addressed.

How Do I Know If My Cat’s Mouth Hurts?

Cats are great at hiding their pain as it is part of their natural programming. But there can come a time when your cat’s mouth could be in a lot of discomfort.

The problem with your cat’s tooth poking into its lip is that the pain doesn’t happen overnight. It is a gradual process that will start to materialize after some time.

Here are some common signs to look out for:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pawing at its mouth
  • Bad breath or malodor from the mouth
  • Unable to chew or grip onto its food
  • Doesn’t like getting its face touched
  • Signs of bleeding or pus on its lip

When a cat’s tooth pokes into its lip, it can create small puncture wounds that easily become infected, leading to painful bacterial infections.

If left untreated, these infections can develop into abscesses, causing significant discomfort and requiring veterinary intervention.

What Should You Do About Your Cat’s Tooth And Lip?

As a cat owner who has gone through a few tough episodes of dental issues with my cat, I would strongly advise you to seek medical advice as early as possible.

A veterinary assessment is crucial for diagnosing dental issues in cats. The vet will look for signs of infection, inflammation and any visible abnormalities in the teeth and gums.

They will also assess the cat’s overall oral health and identify any underlying causes of the dental problem.

The vet may use dental X-rays to see the internal structure of the teeth and roots.

Treatment Options

For immediate relief, vets may prescribe antibiotics, pain management medications and anti-inflammatory treatments to reduce discomfort and swelling.

Depending on the severity of the issue, the vet might recommend dental procedures such as tooth trimming or filing to prevent the tooth from poking into the lip.

In more severe cases, tooth extraction might be necessary. For dental misalignment, orthodontic treatments can help realign the teeth and prevent future problems. 

The cat will feel much better after removing an infected or misaligned tooth.  It can continue to eat without a full set of teeth and won’t even miss that problematic one.  

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