If you have ever taken a look at your cat’s teeth, you will notice how sharp they can be, especially the canine and incisors. These sets of teeth have to razor-sharp as they are meant for cathching prey and tearing off meat.
One common problem with having teeth so sharp is that they can sometimes poke into your cat’s lip. This might seem like a minor inconvenience but it can progress into something more serious.
Should you be concerned if your cat’s tooth is poking into its lip?
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.
In this article, we will discuss the potential causes and risks of this issue and what should be done about it.
How Many Teeth Does Your Cat Have?
You might not have the luxury of having a cat that would allow you to have a good look at its teeth but it is good to know the type of teeth that your cat has.
An adult cat has 30 permanent teeth in its mouth. Why I say ‘permanent teeth’ is because, as kittens, they will lose their baby or deciduous teeth before growing a permanent set.
Your cat will eventually have:
- 12 incisors
- 4 canines
- 10 pre-molars
- 4 molars
Here’s an interesting fact.
A cat only has 2 fewer teeth than a human. Come to think of it, that is a lot of teeth to be placed inside such a small mouth of a cat.
Your cat’s teeth are built and made for eating and tearing meat which explains the way they are shaped.
The upper and lower incisors are used to grip onto meat or prey and the canines are for shredding. Farther down its mouth, the sedated pre-molars help to cut up the food into smaller chunks before swallowing.
The strong molars are used to crush bones and harder stuff.
What’s Causing My Cat’s Tooth To Poke Into Its Lip?
Similar to humans, cats can have their own set of dental problems as they age or due to health issues.
Here are some possible causes that can cause your cat’s lips and teeth to clash.
Loss Of A Tooth
My cat had issues with his teeth as a kitten when I adopted him from the local shelter. From the day I got him, I noticed that he didn’t have the best oral health.
His breath kinda smelt like fish bait for sharks and his gums were red. I got him checked at the vet and he was diagnosed as having FeLV. The virus was messing up his gums and causing severe gingivitis and tooth decay.
After much discussion with the vet, we decided that it was best to extract as many of the infected teeth and prevent the situation from getting worse.
My poor cat had most of his pre-molars removed and has only one remaining canine left on the bottom left.
This causes that one canine to poke into his upper lip at times which makes him look like a pirate.
Let me explain why.
Take a look at your cat’s lips and you’ll notice that it is pulled quite tightly to its face. The crown of the canines will push your cat’s lip slightly outward which allows 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.
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.
Malocclusion In Cats
Malocclusion in cats is caused is 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 and be replaced. The cat’s body will reabsorb the roots of the baby teeth which causes them to fall out.
However, in some cats, this reabsorption process doesn’t happen properly which causes the permanent teeth to grow while the baby tooth is still present.
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.
How Do I Know If My Cat’s Mouth Hurts?
Cats are really great at hiding their pain as it is part of their natural programming. But it 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
- Unable to chew or grip onto its food
- Doesn’t like getting its face touched
- Signs of bleeding or pus on its lip
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.
It isn’t ideal to wait until your cat starts showing signs of dental discomfort and then seek treatment. Your cat can lose all its teeth if you don’t treat any dental problems early.
If your cat has a tooth that is poking into its lip, there are a few options available to resolve it.
- Crown reduction and restoration
If the vet or dental specialist deems that it would be better to extract the imposing tooth or teeth, then it might be better to do so than allow them to cause more trouble down the road. This method works better for teeth that have already decayed badly.
Another method is to file down the tooth to a height that won’t cause it to poke against the lip. After filing down the tooth, it is restored so that it can still be functional and not decay. This method works better for teeth that are still healthy.
How Can I Keep My Cat’s Teeth Healthy?
Do you know that over 70% of cats have dental issues by the time they reach 3 years of age?
As cat owners, keeping our cat’s oral hygiene in tip-top condition might not be on our priority list. I mean, animals are rather self-sufficient, right?
Yes but only to a degree.
Your cat’s diet has a large part to play in its dental health.
These days, a lot of cat food are filled with carbohydrates, sugar and other chemical compounds that aren’t that great for your cat’s teeth.
These erode your cat’s enamel and cause plaque buildup which can affect the gum tissue. You can help lower the risk of dental disease in your cat by feeding a diet that is mainly protein and keeping sugar and carb intake to a bare minimum.
Another effective way is to start brushing your cat’s teeth.
Regular brushing of your cat’s teeth and gums will help prevent the accumulation of plaque and tartar in your cat’s mouth.
You should use a toothbrush and toothpaste that are meant for cats. Never use human-grade toothpaste on cats as it contains artificial sweeteners that are very toxic to cats.