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Feline Tooth Resorption: A Guide for Cat Owners

Feline Tooth Resorption: A Guide for Cat Owners

Tooth resorption is a condition that can affect approximately 40% of all adult cats and is incredibly painful. Since many cat owners don't know the signs of this condition well enough to recognize it, it can also often be left untreated. Here, our Boynton Beach vets share the symptoms of tooth resorption in cats and how it is treated.

Feline Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption is when the dentin (the hard tissue beneath a tooth's enamel) of a single tooth or multiple teeth erodes, left untreated, it can cause irreparable damage. Over time, this condition can affect all of the components in an affected tooth.

Cats develop tooth resorption when their bodies begin the breakdown and reabsorb the structures that for their teeth. This condition starts in the enamel of your cat's teeth and will eventually work its way into the center of the teeth. Eventually, most of an affected tooth will be completely gone, leaving only a bump in your cat's gums. The premolars in the lower jaw (generally the third premolars) are the teeth that are most often affected.

Every so often, this condition may create a hole in the middle of your cat's tooth that may look like a cavity. The difference here is that tooth resorption is caused by your cat's body's own biological processes and cavities are caused by oral bacteria. Cavities are also fairly rare in cats, so if you see a hole in your cat's tooth that looks like a cavity, it is most likely tooth resorption.

Types of Feline Tooth Resorption

There are two kinds of tooth resorption that a cat may develop. The type that your cat develops will be determined by the way that the tooth appears on a dental X-ray that your vet takes in order to diagnose the condition. When a veterinarian takes an X-ray image of a normal tooth, it should show a tooth root with a dark outline around it separating the root from the bone. This dark outline represents the periodontal ligament, which is a normal anatomic element that connects the bone and the root.

Here are the two types of tooth resorption in cats:

Type 1 Tooth Resorption

When cats have type 1 tooth resorption, it means the tooth's crown is damaged, but on the radiograph, the root looks normal and the periodontal ligament can be easily recognized.

Type 2 Tooth Resorption

Also referred to as replacement resorption, this is where the root looks like it is disintegrating, making it hard to differentiate from the bone on the radiograph.

Symptoms of Tooth Resorption in Cats

While tooth resorption can be very painful for cats, it can be hard to recognize because our feline companions are very good at masking their pain. This makes it very important to be able to recognize the signs and behaviors detailed below:

  • Oral Bleeding
  • Increased Salivation
  • Behavioral Changes
  • Difficulty Eating

Treating Cats With Tooth Resorption

Di you think your cat is experiencing tooth resorption? You should call your veterinarian as quickly as you can. If your vet thinks that your feline friend is suffering from this condition, they will conduct radiographs and a clinical screening while your cat is under anesthesia. Your vet may also perform a comprehensive dental screening. 

Without these tests, your cat's tooth resorption will go undiagnosed and continue to get worse, causing your kitty a great deal of pain. Since this condition can be hard for cat owners to recognize, it is important to bring your feline friend to the vet for routine dental exams and cleanings to give your vet the chance to detect this condition in its earliest forms.

If your vet diagnoses your cat with type 1 tooth resorption, they will most likely need to extract the root and crown. If your kitty has type 2 tooth resorption, your vet may need to conduct a crown amputation with intentional root retention. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Don't hesitate to contact Coral Breeze Animal Hospital today to schedule an appointment if you think your cat may have tooth resorption.

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