Is there danger lurking in your cat’s mouth? You might be surprised to hear that more than half of all cats older than three years old have at least one tooth that’s in the process of resorption. Right under your cat’s nose, that innocent looking face may be the carrier of…a sleeper cell!
What is Feline Tooth Resorption? When you have a baby tooth, there are cells that go in and break down the root of the tooth, so that it becomes loose and eventually falls out. For the insanely curious, these cells are called odontoclasts. Ordinarily, these cells do their job on the baby teeth, and then they go to sleep forever.
For some reason – and noone knows why – sometimes, these cells wake back up and begin attacking adult teeth. Instead of the tooth falling out, lesions appear along the gum and start to erode the tooth away. This is known as tooth resorption. It happens with humans, it happens with dogs, but most often, it happens in cats.
In early stages, resorption is seen outside a tooth where it meets the gum. The only evidence that’s detected may be a small defect on the enamel. In the last stages of resorption, the tooth has eroded so far that it’s little more than a slight bump covered by the gum.
What are signs to look for?
1. Jaw spasms and obvious pain when the lesion is touched
2. Increased salivation
3. Oral bleeding
4. Difficulty eating
What should you do if you suspect resorption? You cat’s best advocate is you. Should you suspect mouth problems in your cat, bring her in for a thorough check-up. Lower jaw teeth are the most common ones affected, but any tooth can be vulnerable.
The best way to assess his mouth is with intraoral x-rays, and the subsequent diagnosis determines the therapy approach for your cat. Typical treatments involve partial or complete tooth and root extraction.
While experts can’t pinpoint the exact cause for feline tooth resorption, they concur that the malady can be extremely painful for your pet. If you suspect your cat is affected, bring him in for an examination. Of course, during a routine well cat exam, we always take a look at the teeth for any signs of trouble, too, and if we see any problems, we’ll let you know – before it develops further.
Our goal is to keep pet healthy and happy – from teeth to tail. You can count on us to be on the alert for any sleeper cells lurking in your cat’s mouth. Town N Country Animal Hospital…fighting tooth resorption – one kitty at a time!
*Feline Tooth Resorption is also known as cavities, neck lesions, external or internal root resorptions, feline odontoclastic resorption lesions (FORL’s), and cervical line erosions.