Cats can experience a number of dental conditions including tooth resorption which is a painful condition that affects almost half of all adult cats. Today, our Argyle vets share the symptoms of tooth resorption in cats and what the treatment options are.
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. If left untreated this condition will worsen and eventually affect all parts of the tooth structure.
Cats develop tooth resorption when their bodies start breaking down and absorbing the structures that form their tooth. Generally, this condition starts in the enamel and makes its way to the tooth's center. Eventually, most of the tooth will be completely gone, only leaving a raised bump on the 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 result from bacteria, and the body's biological process causes resorption. 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.
The Different Types of Feline Tooth Resorption
If your cat develops tooth resorption it will be one of two possible types. The type your cat has will be determined by the way the tooth appears on the radiograph (X-ray) your vet takes to diagnose this condition. When a veterinarian takes a radiograph of a normal tooth it should show the tooth root with a thin dark outline surrounding it, that separates the root from the bone. The dark outline represents the periodontal ligament, which is a normal anatomic element that connects the bone and the root.
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
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 That Cats Experience With Tooth Resorption
While tooth resorption can be very painful for cats, cats are notorious for masking any pain that they may be experiencing. This makes it very important to be able to identify the signs and behaviors detailed below:
- Increased Salivation
- Difficulty Eating
- Oral Bleeding
- Behavioral Changes
Tooth Resorption Treatment Options
If you are concerned that your cat may be experiencing the symptoms of tooth resorption you should contact your vet to schedule an examination. 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 will most likely perform a physical dental evaluation as well. If left undiagnosed and therefore untreated your cat will continue to be in unnecessary pain This can be a difficult condition to recognize, therefore it is incredibly vital for you 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.