When a cat experiences tooth resorption, the tooth breaks down and is absorbed by their body. Unfortunately, this can also lead to irreparable damage and serious health concerns. Today, our vets at Marcello Veterinary Hospital in Houma and Raceland share the types of tooth resorption in cats and what the different treatment options are to get your furry friend healthy again.
Cat Dental Health Conditions: Tooth Resorption
When your cat's tooth becomes damaged and the dentin beneath the enamel begins to break down it can result in a condition known as tooth resorption. If left untreated, it can cause irreparable damage.
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. Over time the majority of the tooth will no longer be present. The premolars in the lower jaw (generally the third premolars) are the teeth that are most often affected.
Sometimes, this condition can present itself as a cavity as it may begin with a hole in the middle of the cat's tooth. 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 in cats is fairly common but also extremely painful. That's why it is important 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.
What are the different types of cat tooth resorption?
Cats commonly develop one of two different types of tooth resorption. 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 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 will the vet treat my cat's tooth resorption?
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 looking for the common signs like a cat with rotten teeth or obvious damage. Without these tests, your cat's tooth resorption will go undiagnosed and continue to get worse, causing your kitty a great deal of pain.
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.
What happens when cat tooth resorption is left untreated?
If tooth resorption in cats is left untreated it can result in a number of serious conditions affecting the overall health of your feline friend such as:
- Tooth Loss
- Bone Infection
- Blood Infections
- Organ Damage
This makes it important to seek dental care for your cat as soon as they begin to show concerning signs.
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.