When your cat's body breaks down the structures within their teeth it's called tooth resorption and can be incredibly painful and possibly lead to further complications. Today, our Greeley vets discuss tooth resorption in cats, how to recognize the signs and how it can be treated.
Tooth Resorption in Cats
The hard tissue beneath the enamel of a tooth is called dentin. When this dentin begins to break down and wear away, it is called tooth resorption. If tooth resorption is left untreated it can cause damage that your vet will be unable to repair.
Cats develop tooth resorption when their bodies start breaking down and absorbing the structures that form their tooth. Generally, this condition begins in the enamel and goes to the tooth's center. Eventually, most of the tooth will be completely gone. 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 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.
Tooth resorption is one of the most common dental concerns that our Greeley vets see in cats, it is also one of the most painful. That's why it is essential to bring your feline friend to the vet for routine dental exams and cleanings so your vet can catch the condition as early as possible.
Are There Different Types of Tooth Resorption in Cats?
There are two types of tooth resorption that cats can develop. 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.
The causes of both types of tooth resorption in cats are unknown. However, maintaining good oral hygiene practices and regular professional oral examinations and cleanings is your cat's best chance of preventing this condition, or detecting it right away.
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.
What Are The Symptoms My Cat May Experience With Tooth Resorption?
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 Is Tooth Resorption in Cats Treated?
If you see any of the above signs of tooth resorption in your cat then you should bring them in for a dental examination as soon 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. These tests are necessary in order to diagnose dental resorption in cats and without them your cat would continue to live in a great deal of pain and risk further complications.
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.