Is Your Cat Suffering From Tooth Resorption?

If your cat is drooling or showing signs of pain when eating, you may want to get them checked out by a veterinarian for dental issues. Just like humans, cats can develop issues like gingivitis and cavities. A common dental issue that cats can develop is tooth resorption. Read on to learn more about this issue and how to treat it.

What Is Tooth Resorption?

Tooth resorption—sometimes known as feline oral resorptive lesions (FORL)—is a condition where cells called odontoclasts disintegrate the tooth's dentin layer. Enamel and dentin layers normally protect the pulp, which is the innermost tooth layer that contains nerves and blood vessels. When outer tooth layers break down and the pulp is exposed, this can be quite painful for the cat. Some cats are good at hiding their pain, so pet owners may only notice this condition when dark pinkish lesions appear along the gumline. When these lesions appear, teeth may already be significantly damaged.   

What Causes Tooth Resorption?

Researchers haven't found an exact cause for tooth resorption, but studies show that this condition is more prevalent in older cats. Cats with gingivitis also have an elevated risk of tooth resorption. Some researchers have found a link between excess vitamin D and tooth resorption, so there could also be a dietary link.

How Is This Condition Treated?

If your veterinarian suspects tooth resorption, he or she may treat the issue or refer you to a specialist, like a cat dentist.

Before treating the tooth resorption, the veterinarian will take x-rays to see the extent of the issue. In early cases, the resorption may only need dental cleanings and regular monitoring to make sure the condition doesn't progress.

If the tooth resorption has greatly damaged the tooth, then your veterinarian may decide to do a coronal amputation or extraction. During a coronal amputation, only the upper portion of the tooth is removed while the tooth roots remain. During an extraction, the entire tooth is removed from the gum line.

Can a Cat Still Have a Good Quality of Life without Some Teeth?

If the veterinarian decides to amputate or remove teeth, you may wonder if your cat will still have a good quality of life. Thankfully, many cats can function just fine when one or multiple teeth are removed. Cat teeth are often used for shearing and grasping rather than chewing, so soft kibble and wet food work just fine for cats with missing teeth. If your cat has a harder food, then adding water or a broth to soften it up may be enough. Your vet can also make food recommendations. Reach out to a cat dentist to learn more about tooth resorption and other treatment options.