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Tooth Resorption in Cats

When a cat experiences the breakdown and absorption of the structures supporting its tooth, it is also referred to as tooth resorption. In this article, our vets in Springfield explore the symptoms associated with tooth resorption in cats and the available treatment options.

What is Tooth Resorption in Cats?

Tooth resorption occurs when the dentin, the sturdy tissue beneath a tooth's enamel, undergoes erosion in a single tooth or multiple teeth. If left unaddressed, this process can lead to irreversible damage.

In cats, tooth resorption occurs as the body breaks down and absorbs the structures that compose a tooth. Typically initiating in the enamel, the condition progresses toward the tooth's core, resulting in the eventual disintegration of a significant portion of the tooth. The premolars in the lower jaw, particularly the third premolars, are most commonly affected.

Sometimes, tooth resorption may manifest as a cavity-like hole in a cat's tooth. It's crucial to note that unlike cavities, which are caused by bacteria, tooth resorption is instigated by an internal biological process. Given the rarity of cavities in cats, if you observe a hole resembling a cavity or notice severe pain indicative of a deteriorating tooth, tooth resorption may be the underlying issue.

Tooth resorption is one of the most frequently diagnosed oral health conditions in cats, presenting a painful experience for your feline companion. Therefore, regular veterinary dental exams and cleanings are imperative. These examinations enable your vet to detect the condition at its earliest stages, facilitating prompt intervention.

Different Types of Tooth Resorption in Cats

Cats may experience two distinct forms of tooth resorption, with the specific type identified through radiographic examination conducted by your veterinarian. The tooth's appearance on the X-ray is crucial in determining the nature of the condition. In a normal tooth radiograph, the tooth root should present a dark, slender outline clearly delineated from the surrounding bone. This dark outline signifies the presence of the periodontal ligament—a natural anatomical element that links the bone to the root.

The underlying causes of each type of tooth resorption in cats remain unknown. Nevertheless, maintaining a routine schedule for professional oral examinations and cleanings for your cat, coupled with effective at-home oral hygiene practices, can significantly reduce the risk of developing or promptly identifying this condition.

Outlined below are the two classifications of tooth resorption in cats:

Type 1 Tooth Resorption

In feline type 1 tooth resorption cases, the damage is primarily confined to the tooth's crown. Despite the crown impairment, radiographic images reveal a seemingly normal root, with the periodontal ligament readily identifiable.

Type 2 Tooth Resorption

Termed replacement resorption, this phenomenon occurs when the root appears to undergo disintegration, rendering it challenging to distinguish from the surrounding 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 identify the common signs and symptoms listed below:

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

How Cats With Tooth Resorption Can Be Treated

If you suspect your cat is experiencing tooth resorption, contacting your veterinarian promptly is crucial. Once your vet identifies the possibility of this condition in your feline companion, they will perform radiographs and a clinical screening, typically while your cat is under anesthesia. Additionally, a  dental screening may be carried out. Failure to diagnose and treat cat tooth resorption in a timely manner can worsen the condition, causing significant pain and potential infection for your cat. If left untreated for an extended period, the affected tooth's crown may break, resulting in eventual tooth loss.

If your vet confirms type 1 tooth resorption in your cat, they will likely recommend the extraction of both the root and crown. For type 2 tooth resorption, your vet may opt for 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.

Do you suspect your cat may be suffering from tooth resorption? Please contact our vets in Springfield to book an appointment for an exam.

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