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Tooth Resorption in Cats

Tooth resorption happens when a cat's body breaks down and absorbs the structures that support the tooth. In this blog post, our Turlock vets discuss the symptoms of tooth resorption in cats and how it can be treated.

What is Tooth Resorption in Cats? 

When the dentin (the hard tissue under the tooth's enamel) of a single tooth or multiple teeth erodes, tooth resorption occurs. This can cause irreversible damage to your cat's mouth if left untreated. 

Cats develop tooth resorption when the body starts to break down and absorb the structures that form the tooth. Typically, this condition arises in the enamel and progresses to the tooth's center. Eventually, most of the tooth will completely break down. The premolars in the lower jaw (generally the third premolars) are the teeth most often affected. 

Occasionally, tooth resorption can cause a hole to grow in the middle of a cat's tooth that may look similar to a cavity. However, the difference between cavities and tooth resorption is that while bacteria cause cavities, a biological process within the body triggers tooth resorption. Cavities are also fairly rare in cats, so if you see a hole in your cat's tooth that looks like a cavity or a rotten tooth is causing severe pain, tooth resorption may be to blame. 

Tooth resorption is a painful condition for cats, and is one of the most commonly diagnosed oral health conditions in our feline friends. This is why it's so important to book routine dental exams and cleanings with your vet, so they can detect the condition as early as possible. 

Different Types of Tooth Resorption in Cats 

Cats can develop two types of tooth resorption. Which type your cat experiences will depend on the way the tooth appears on the radiograph (X-ray) taken by your vet to diagnose the condition. In a radiograph of a normal tooth, the tooth root should appear as a thin, dark outline surrounding the tooth. The tooth root separates the tooth from the bone, and the dark outline represents the periodontal ligament – a normal anatomic element connecting the bone to the root. 

It's not known what causes each type of tooth resorption. However, bringing your cat in for regularly scheduled professional dental examinations and cleanings and maintaining good oral hygiene practices at home will lower your cat's risk of developing this condition. It will also increase the chances that you or your vet will detect a problem and the condition will be diagnosed early. 

The two types of tooth resorption in cats are:

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 common signs and symptoms listed below:

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

How Cats With Tooth Resorption Can Be Treated

If you think your cat may have tooth resorption you should call your vet as quickly as possible. If your veterinarian suspects your feline friend has this condition, they will conduct radiographs and a clinical screening while your cat is under anesthesia. Your vet may also perform a complete dental screening.

If your cat's tooth resorption is left undiagnosed and treated, the condition will continue to worsen and cause your kitty a great deal of pain, in addition to infection. If left untreated for long enough, the crown of the tooth can break, resulting in tooth loss. 

If your vet diagnoses your cat with type 1 tooth resorption, they will most likely need to extract the root and crown. If your cat 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.

Do you suspect your cat may be suffering from tooth resorption? Contact our vets in Turlock right away. 

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