Tooth Resorption in Cats

By Jan Bellows, DVM, Dipl. AVDC, ABVP

Dental

November 21, 2008

What is tooth resorption?

Tooth resorption (TR) is one of the more common oral abnormalities seen in cats. In the past, tooth resorption was referred to as feline oral resorptive lesions, odontoclastic resorptions, cavities, caries, cervical neck lesions, external or internal root resorptions, and cervical line erosions. Although the premolars of the lower jaw are most commonly affected, lesions can be found on any tooth. Approximately half of cats older than three years of age will have at least one tooth affected.

Lower premolar resorbing tooth   Upper fourth premolar resorption

What causes tooth resorption, where does it start and how does it progress?

The exact cause is unknown. Many studies have been performed, but the findings reveal that tooth resorption cannot be conclusively linked to diet, vaccines, or other diseases. Whatever the underlying cause, the end result is erosion of cementum and dentin that often progresses into the pulp of the affected tooth. Tooth resorption is painful once the lesion extends to the oral cavity.

How do I know if my cat has tooth resorption?

X-ray showing destruction of lower premolar affected by tooth resorptionOnce the sensitive dentin is exposed, tooth resorption is painful and manifests as muscular spasms or trembling of the jaw whenever the lesion is touched. Cats with tooth resorption may show increased salivation, oral bleeding or difficulty eating. In most cases, tooth resorption does not show outward signs and cats suffer in silence.

How are tooth resorptions treated?

Tooth resorption is believed to be progressive and can present itself in many stages. Once the resorption has eroded the tooth, exposing it to the oral cavity, or if there is significant root resorption, extraction of the tooth is necessary.

Your veterinarian will outline a treatment plan that will minimize pain and suffering.

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