Tooth resorption in cats is a condition in which the body breaks down and absorbs the structures that support the tooth. Today, our Pico Rivera vets talk about the symptoms of tooth resorption in cats and how it can be treated.

What is tooth resorption in cats?

Tooth resorption is when the dentin (the hard tissue beneath a tooth's enamel) of a single tooth or multiple teeth erodes. If left untreated, cat tooth resorption 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. 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 rotten tooth or 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 conditions seen in cats and is a painful experience for your feline friend. 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.

Different Types of Tooth Resorption in Cats

Cats can suffer from two types of tooth resorption. The type of tooth your cat has will be determined by the appearance of the tooth on the radiograph (X-ray) taken by your vet to diagnose this condition. A radiograph of a normal tooth taken by a veterinarian should show the tooth root with a thin dark outline surrounding it that separates the root from the bone. The dark outline is the periodontal ligament, a normal anatomical 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.

Symptoms of Tooth Resorption in Cats

While tooth resorption can be extremely painful for cats, it can be difficult to detect because our feline companions are very good at masking their discomfort. This makes it critical to be able to recognize the following common signs and symptoms:

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

How Cats With Tooth Resorption Can Be Treated

If you suspect your cat has tooth resorption, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If your veterinarian suspects your cat has this condition, they will perform radiographs and a clinical screening while your cat is sedated. Your veterinarian may also perform a full dental examination. Without these tests, your cat's tooth resorption will go undiagnosed and worsen, causing your kitty significant 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.

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.

If you believe your cat is suffering from tooth resorption, contact our Pico Rivera vets today to book your feline friend an appointment.