Tooth resorption is a condition that affects 20-60 percent of cats where portions of one or many teeth are destroyed. Other names for this disease include Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions (FORLs) or Cervical Line Lesion.
A cat's tooth is made up of the portion above the gum line called the crown and the portion in the bone called the root. In each tooth, there is a sensitive pulp chamber surrounded by a bony substance called dentin.
With tooth resorption, the dentin erodes either in the root, the crown, or both of one or more teeth. When the crown has tooth resorption the tooth is painful. When the disease is advanced, the crown can break off and that is very painful.
No one knows the cause of tooth resorption. There have been many theories, but none have been proven.
Cats are masters at hiding disease. You may not have any clues that your cat has multiple painful teeth with tooth resorptions. They may still be eating well and acting very normal.
We look in cat’s mouths for clues about this disease when they have their check-ups and we may find a tooth that bleeds, is broken, or has excessive gum growing up the side of the crown. Often, we don’t see any sign of disease on the oral exam.
We diagnose the disease with full mouth dental radiographs done under anesthesia. If we find Tooth Resorption, the only effective treatment is extraction or partial extraction of the affected tooth. For some cats, this involves one or two teeth. For other cats, all their teeth develop Tooth Resorption.
Most cats have totally healed and feel better than before the dental procedure within two weeks. Their owners often report that they eat, play, rest and groom better. It is amazing that they are able to eat normally even if they don’t have any teeth!
The first step in finding out if your cat has this common and painful condition is to have a good oral exam followed by a dental and full mouth oral radiographs. Call us at (434) 973-9699 to set up an appointment for your cat!