Tooth resorption is a very painful condition that affects as much as 40% of all adult cats. And, since many cat owners don't know how to recognize it, this condition will often go untreated. Here, our Memphis veterinary team shares some of 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 breaking down and re-absorbing the structures that form their teeth. Generally speaking, this condition begins in the enamel and will make its way into the centre of the tooth. If not identified promptly, most of the tooth will be completely gone leaving behind only a raised bump in your cat's gums. The premolars in the lower jaw (generally the third premolars) are the teeth that are most often affected.
Occasionally, this condition can make a hole in the middle of a cat's tooth, which could look like a cavity. However, the difference between tooth resorption and cavities is that cavities are the result of bacteria, and resorption is caused by the body's own biological process. 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 varieties of tooth resorption that cats can develop. The kind that your cat has will depend on the way an affected tooth appears on a radiograph that your vet takes in order to diagnose their condition. When a veterinarian takes a radiograph of a normal tooth, it should show the tooth's root with a thin and dark outline surrounding it and separating its root from its bone. This dark outline represents the periodontal ligament that normally connects a tooth to your cat's jawbone.
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
This is also referred to as replacement resorption, this kind of tooth resorption involves the seeming disintegration of the tooth root, making it difficult to distinguish from the jawbone in an X-ray.
Symptoms of Tooth Resorption in Cats
While tooth resorption can be a very painful condition in your cat, it can also be quite difficult to detect in your feline companion, since cats are so good at masking their pain. This means it is very important - especially as your cat ages - to keep an eye out for the signs and behaviors listed below:
- Behavioral Changes
- Increased Salivation
- Oral Bleeding
- Difficulty Eating
Treating Cats With Tooth Resorption
If you are wondering whether or not your cat may have tooth resorption, you should call your vet as soon as possible. If your vet thinks your feline friend may have this condition, they will conduct dental X-rays 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.