As bizarre as it may sound, Maine Coon owners need to brush their cats teeth on a regular basis, to prevent their cat developing tooth decay or periodontal disease. Whilst attending to your Maine Coons oral hygiene might not have been your first grooming consideration, a Maine Coons oral hygiene is of utmost important. Failure to clean Maine Coon teeth could result in both pain and discomfort to your Coon, and expensive veterinary dental bills.
Owners should brush Maine Coon teeth daily, or 2-4 times a week with a toothbrush specifically designed to be used on cats. Regular brushing prevents tooth decay and periodontal disease, which are painful to both your Maine Coon, and your wallet. Good oral hygiene has been linked to a cats overall health and wellness levels.
Maine Coon Teeth
Maine Coon kittens are not actually born with any teeth, just like human babies aren’t. According to ASPCA, a Maine Coon kittens teeth will start to appear at the 3 week mark. Their permanent teeth then start to grow when a kitten reaches 3-4 months of age, starting with the middle incisors around the 14 week mark, then the second and third incisors between 15-16 weeks (source).
|Maine Coon Teeth Timeline||Description|
|Newborn||Kittens are not born with teeth|
|3 Weeks||Baby teeth begin to appear. They are smaller than permanent teeth, with pointed tips|
|6 Weeks||Kittens have 26 baby teeth|
|3-4 Months||Adult Permanent teeth start to grow. They are wider than the kittens baby teeth, and have flat edges|
|4-5 Months||Kitten baby teeth shed|
|6 Months||Cat has 30 permanent teeth|
How Many Teeth Do Maine Coons Have?
You can expect your Maine Coon kitten to have 26 baby teeth, and an older Maine Coon to have 30 permanent adult teeth. This makes the Maine Coon breed quite similar to humans, since human babies have 20 baby teeth, and 32 permanent adult teeth!
Adult Maine Coon teeth are made up of a variety of different tooth types, each with their own unique purpose, and use.
The table below summarises the type of teeth cats have, and their respective functions:
|Small Incisors||12||Smaller teeth between canines on the upper and lower jaws. Cats have six incisors in the mandible, and si x in the maxilla||Incisors help keep cats tongue in their mouth. They also enable cat to grasp food|
|Canine Teeth (often called ‘Maine Coon Fangs’).||4||2 at the bottom, and 2 fangs at the top||Sharp canine teeth help cat kill and shred their prey|
|Premolars||10||3 Premolars on each side of the upper jaw and 2 premolars on each side of the lower jaw||Sharp edged premolars are used by your cat for sheering their prey, into small edible chunks|
|Molars||4||Cats have one upper and lower molar on each side||Sharp edged molars are used by your cat for sheering their prey, into small edible chunks|
A cat’s gums and teeth are attached together by periodontal ligaments which hold the cats teeth in place, along with their gingiva (gums), and their alveolar bone (known as the tooth socket) (source).
Maine Coon Teeth Care
It might not have been top of your priority list when you first brought your Maine Coon kitten home, however, it is incredibly important that owners brush their Maine Coon teeth everyday, or at minimum, 2-4 times per week.
Brushing is incredibly important because it helps to limit the buildup of tartar and plaque on a cat’s teeth, which causes tooth decay and periodontal disease. Dental health conditions such as these are discomforting for your cat, and could lead to more serious health issues if not attended to by a veterinary professional quickly. Fixing the root cause (no pun intended there!) is also required to eliminate the need for expensive veterinary bills, such as Maine Coon tooth removal, or dental work.
If you are still not sure whether brushing your cats teeth is really necessary, take a look at this worrying statistic about cat dental health:
How Do You Brush A Cat’s Teeth?
Your Maine Coon cannot brush their teeth themselves, so owners must intervene, to help them.
If you are worried about brushing your cats teeth, just following our simple 11 step cat tooth brushing process (click here to jump to step by step guide).
In order to be successful at brushing your cats teeth, make sure that you start the process prepared. You can do this by purchasing the following recommended items in advance, from Amazon:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Never try brushing your cat’s teeth with a toothbrush designed for humans, because your cats jaw is far smaller, and needs a brush shaped to fit their mouth shape. The bristles on a human’s tooth brush are also too thick. Cat toothbrushes have fine bristles, and are very soft on the cats teeth.
11 Steps To Brushing Your Cats Teeth
Our step by step cat teeth brushing guide contains 11 simple steps. This process isn’t a race, so take your time and be extremely positive and encouraging to your cat at all times. This needs to be a pleasant experience between cat and owner, so try not to get stressed, since they will sense this emotion and be less inclined to have their teeth brushed.
1. Start Young
To increase your chances of success, introduce the concept of brushing teeth to your Maine Coon whilst they are still a kitten. Older cats are less likely to accept tooth brushing.
2. Take It Slow
It is critical that you take the process of brushing a cat’s teeth slowly. Never force a cat to have their teeth brushed, since this creates a negative association between the toothbrush, owner, and cat. Forcing your cat to have their teeth brushed will also scare them, making it a battle that causes your cat (and you!) a great deal of stress.
3. Cuddle Time
Encourage your Maine Coon to come for a cuddle, and give them a good stroke. If they are calm, give them a treat as a reward.
Then, gently stroke around their mouth and jawline, before gently trying to open their mouth. Your Maine Coon might not like this at first, so just keep trying each day until they let you look in their mouth. Always reward your cat when they let you touch their mouth.
4. Let Them Lick!
Many cats love the taste of butter, so spread a little on the end of your finger and allow your cat to lick it off. Try this a few times, before progressing towards putting your finger in their mouth, to wipe the butter on their gums.
The aim of this method is to get your Maine Coon kitten comfortable with you putting your finger in their mouth. Once again, it isn’t a race and it may take owners many attempts for the kitten to accept their owners finger in their mouth!
5. Introduce The Finger Toothbrush
The aim of this stage, is simply to introduce the toothbrush to your cat. Allow them to sniff, pat and chew the toothbrush to their heart’s content. Do not tell them off, just let them scent the brush and ‘do their thing’.
6. Finger Toothbrush
When your cat is comfortable playing with the finger toothbrush, and lets you put your finger in their mouth, introduce the finger toothbrush again. The only difference this time is that the finger toothbrush will be on your finger, and have a layer of butter over it.
Next, slowly and carefully put the finger toothbrush in your kittens mouth, and softly brush one of their teeth. At first it is likely that your cat will only permit one tooth to be brushed, before pulling away. This is completely fine, so don’t panic, or force your cat to have all their teeth brushed.
Over the coming days and weeks, try to increase the amount of teeth that your Maine Coon will let you brush. Each time they let you brush their teeth, praise them for their good behaviour and reward them with a treat. This encourages a positive link between the toothbrush and your Maine Coon.
This stage isn’t a race, so never rush it. Instead, owners should remain calm, be persistent, and praise their cat when small steps are achieved. Be consistent with tooth brushing, so that it becomes an accepted process in your cats life.
7. Cat Toothpaste
Once your cat is happy for you to brush their gums with the finger toothbrush, replace the butter on the brush for specially formulated cat toothpaste. Allow your cat to lick a little bit of the toothpaste first, before applying it to the brush. If your cat likes it, they will let you brush their teeth. If not, you may need to try a different flavour, or brand of cat toothpaste.
8. Introduce Cat Toothbrush
Once your cat has accepted the finger toothbrush, owners have the choice as to whether they want to move onto a normal cat toothbrush, or not. Owners wishing to progress onto the cat toothbrush should introduce the toothbrush to their cats slowly, like they did with the finger toothbrush.
When your cat seems calm and settled, carefully start brushing your cats teeth with the toothbrush, and toothpaste.
Although it might defeat the object, always reward your cat at the end of the tooth brushing process. The Maine Coon is highly trainable, so will respond well to being rewarded for having their teeth brushed.
10. Establish A Routine
Owners should establish an ongoing Maine Coon teeth brushing routine, in order to ensure continued success in this grooming ritual.
11. Ongoing Dental Hygiene
In addition to brushing your Maine Coons teeth, consider purchasing a catnip toothbrush toy. Cats love to play with these, and owners love them too because a cat gets to chew and clean their teeth, whilst also having fun.
Cute Video Of Maine Coon Brushing Their Teeth
Just for fun, take a look at this cute video of a Maine Coon kitten brushing their teeth! Credit for the video goes to Youtube channel ‘Connarch’ (link here).
Cat That Hates Their Teeth Being Brushed
Not all cats are going to love having their teeth brushed, like the one in the video above. This is simply because all cats are unique, with their own personality traits and behaviours.
If you’ve followed the steps above, but still find that your Maine Coon doesn’t like having their teeth brushed, consider using one of the following cat dental products:
- Dental cat treats: Covered in a special texture that gently cleans your cats teeth. Helps to reduce build up of tartar on a cats teeth.
- Cat dental cleaning wipes: These moistened soft pads can be wiped over your cats teeth, to reduce the build up of plaque.
- Cat Oral Hygiene Gel: Owners can place small amount on their finger, and wipe their cats teeth.
- Veterinary Approved Dental Food: Veterinary approved food is shaped to encourage jaw movement and crunching.
- Cat Chewing Sticks: These often contain catnip, and encourage a cat to chew. The motion of chewing is great for helping to remove the buildup of plaque on the outer surfaces of a cat’s teeth,
- Cat Chewing Toys: Some cat toys are designed to encourage a cat to chew. The abrasive texture of such toys helps to clean their teeth.
Maine Coon Teeth Problems
Just like humans, cats can also develop unwanted and painful issues with their teeth. Although brushing your Maine Coon teeth regularly may not eliminate dental issues in their entirety, it will reduce the likelihood that your Maine Coon suffers from the Maine Coon teeth problems.
The table below summarises the common Maine Coon teeth problems, associated with this particular cat breed:
|Tooth Resorption||Bone structure of cats teeth starts to breakdown.||1) Early signs appear at the point where the tooth meets the gum. This area will look pinkish|
2) Tooth loss
4) Cat stopped eating
|Stomatitis||Widespread oral inflammation beyond gingivitis and periodontitis. It can extend into a cats submucosal tissues (source)||1) Persistent inflammation and ulceration of oral mucosa.|
4) Oral Discomfort
5) Dropping food
6) Excessive drooling
|Periodontal Disease||Bacteria, also known as ‘plaque’ builds up on, and around the cats teeth causing inflammation of a cat’s tooth and gum support structures||1) Oral Pain|
2) Bone Infection
3) Tooth Loss
Let’s look at these Maine Coon teeth problems in greater detail, to get a better understanding of the issues:
1. Tooth Resorption
Tooth resorption is where a cats tooth structure starts to break down, from the inside. It is thought to be the most common reason for cats experiencing tooth loss, affecting between 30-70% of the cat population. It is not known what causes this disease, but owners should keep an eye out for its key symptoms, since tooth resorption progresses to other parts of the tooth as the disease develops.
If you notice your cat has stopped eating their food, or is drooling, this maybe because they are experiencing oral pain. Another sign of cat discomfort is when the cat repeatedly turns their head whilst eating, which is done to move food away from teeth that might be hurting.
Ask your veterinary professional to look at your Maine Coon teeth if you suspect there is an issue. If the vets notices “a pinkish defect in the tooth at the line where the tooth meets the gums”, your cat may have tooth resorption (source). Unfortunately, severe tooth damage has occurred once this symptom is identified.
Feline stomatitis is a common condition in Maine Coon cats, and can affect both male and females of any age. It is characterised by painful inflammation of a cat’s gums and mouth, and causes ulcers to develop in the cats mouth.
Cats with stomatitis often stop eating because it is too painful for them to open their mouths. Alternatively, you may notice your cat trying to eat, but yelping and dropping their food. Other signs that could signal an issue include bad breath, pawing at their face or mouth, messy coat of hair, and unexplained weight loss.
According to ‘Vet Street’, feline stomatitis can take a long time to be treated, and is caused by certain viruses, some inflammatory conditions, and dental disease i.e. periodontal disease (source).
3. Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is very common in cats, and also known as ‘gum disease’. It is when the periodontium (tissues around teeth) become inflamed. Symptoms should not be ignored because a cat may develop heart valve, and kidney health conditions when oral bacteria enters their bloodstream, via diseased oral tissues.
The table below summarises the stages of periodontal disease:
Halitosis is often caused when food residue becomes trapped between the cats teeth and gums. As these residues interact with the bacteria in a cats mouth, they begin to rot, and emit an offensive smell.
Cats are said to have halitosis when their breath starts to smell really bad. If you notice your cats breath has started smelling, speak to a veterinary professional asap. They will treat your cat by cleaning their teeth, and will give you advice on how to keep your cats teeth clean and healthy moving forwards.
Halitosis can damage the bond between owner and pet, as no one wants to cuddle a cat with bad breath. Early intervention is recommended as this stage of periodontal disease is reversible, if owners intervene quickly before it develops into periodontitis.
Plaque is a sticky bacteria filled coating that is known to sit on the surface of a tooth. It is thought to be the main reason why periodontal disease occurs. A cats immune system will release toxins in an attempt to attack plaque that has built up, and it is this bodily reaction that causes your cats gums to become inflamed.
This stage of periodontal disease is thought to affect 80% of cats aged over 3 years old. Thankfully this stage of periodontal disease is reversible, provided the cats teeth are professionally cleaned asap. Owners are then required to follow a strict home care routine, to maintain their cats dental health (source).
Owners should not ignore signs of gingivitis, since an untreated cats condition will worsen to periodontitis, and potential tooth loss.
If a cats gingivitis is not treated, the disease progresses into its second stage, otherwise known as periodontal disease, or periodontitis. This is where both the bony and soft tissues in the cats mouth are impacted, leading to periodontal ligament damage, bone loss, and/or receding gums.
It is important that owners seek professional veterinary help if their cat has developed periodontal disease, because the plaque that has built up in a cats gum lines interacts with the minerals and saliva in a cats mouth, forming tartar. This tartar will irritate your cats gums, and requires mechanical removal.
Once a cat has periodontitis, this stage of periodontal disease is not reversible. All veterinary professionals can do, is limit the damage.
How To Spot Cat Dental Issues
Cats are masters at hiding their dental pain, and certainly cannot tell you if something is wrong! Watch out for the following key signs, which could indicate that your cat has dental health issues:
- Tilting head to eat food on one side
- Repeatedly dropping cat food
- Small yelps of discomfort when eating food
- Red, inflamed gums
- Smelly breath
- Grinding teeth
Maine Coon Tooth Loss
One of the key reasons for Maine Coon tooth loss, is due to tooth resorption, whereby the tooth structure begins to break down from the inside. It is estimated that an incredible 30-70% of cats show signs of tooth resorption (source).
Owners should brush their cats teeth to remove food residue that is left on or between a cat’s teeth, right from the start. This is important, since it helps limit their cats chances of having to undergo painful and expensive dental disease treatment. Brushing is important, since it can prevent Maine Coon tooth loss.
If your cat does need to have their tooth extracted, your veterinary professional will recommend your cat be placed under general anaesthetic. Your cat may feel tender around their mouth after this procedure, so may find it difficult to eat their food. Help them by giving them wet cat food that is soft and mushy in their mouths. Wet food will also help to keep them feel hydrated. Your cat should feel better within a few days, if not, contact your veterinary professional.
Can A Cat Live Without Teeth?
It is thought that cats adapt well to having one or more of their teeth removed, because they are still able to eat wet food. Although dry food might be more challenging, some cats with teeth removed still manage to eat it. The important factor in cat dental health to remember is that having a mouth free of pain is more important than a mouth full of cat teeth.
Cats without teeth can go onto to have long and happy lives.
How Much Does It Cost To Have A Cats Tooth Removed?
There is no one singular cost for having a cats tooth removed, since the condition of your Maine Coons teeth will determine the cost of the veterinary professionals dental costs.
Rather than getting to this stage, remember that prevention is better than a cure. Therefore, Maine Coon owners should make every effort to ensure their treasured Coon has good oral hygiene, by using a specially designed at toothbrush to brush their cats teeth on a daily basis. Owners should also limit potential dental issues in their cat, by only feeding them high quality dry food. Regular dental check-ups with a veterinary professional are also advisable.
Is Dry Food Good For Cats Teeth?
A Maine Coons diet is critical to the health of their teeth. Therefore, always feed your Maine Coon cat high quality dry food, designed to encourage jaw movement and crunching. Click here to view my favourite dry foods for Maine Coons.
The dry food that you buy should be high in protein, and low in carbohydrates. Grains should also be kept to a minimum.
Wet food should be kept to a minimum, ideally only 2-3 portions a week, since the moisture can be damaging to Maine Coon teeth.
Raw Food Diet
When feeding your Maine Coon, aim to keep their diet as close to what they would have eaten if they had been living in the wild. This is important, since Maine Coon cats are obligate carnivores who absorb nutrients from animal food. Therefore, if you can give them raw meat to chew on, from time to time, your Maine Coon will be your biggest fan!
Our cat also loves eating fish which is a great source of Omega nutrients, and beneficial for your cats oral health requirements.
Maine Coon Teeth Grinding
Many cats grind their teeth, but this shouldn’t make it acceptable, or ‘normal’ behaviour. Cats often grind their teeth due to underlying medical issues that are present either inside, or outside their mouth. For example, a cat may grind their teeth if their teeth are not aligned correctly, or if they have a severe digestive disorder.
If you notice your Maine Coon teeth grinding, ask a veterinary professional to check their teeth asap.
Other Maine Coon Teeth Queries:
Thank you to all my readers for such positive feedback on this article. Your additional questions on Maine Coon teeth have been both interesting to read, and wide ranging.
I have summarised my answers to your questions below, in the hope this will help other Maine Coon cat lovers too.
Maine Coon cats are prone to dental diseases, if their owners do not help them with their oral hygiene.
There is so much to say when it comes to Maine Coon teeth. The most important thing to take away from this article, however, is that you MUST brush your Maine Coons teeth.
Hi, my name is Katrina Stewardson and I own a male Maine Coon cat. I regularly brush his teeth, so can explain everything you need to know, in detail.