With February being National Pet Dental Health Month, now is a good time to learn about Tooth Resorption, a very serious, very painful dental disease far too many cats suffer from.
Tooth Resorption is the gradual destruction of a tooth or teeth caused by cells called odontoclasts. It usually starts on the outside of the tooth at the gum line, appearing as skin overgrowth or obvious lesions. Although most common in the lower jaw, resorption can occur in any tooth.
It is estimated that between 20 and 60 percent of healthy cats suffer from Tooth Resorption. That number grows to 75 percent of cats over the age of five.
Statistics show that between 60 and 80 percent of cats that visit the veterinarian for treatment of dental disease suffer from tooth resorption. It is also referred to as:
Cervical line lesions
Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs)
Cavities (which is inaccurate and misleading)
An exact cause for tooth resorption has not yet been identified. There may be a link between high levels of vitamin D in a cat's system and Tooth Resorption.
Cats are notorious for hiding their pain. That is why it is so important for pet parents to recognize signs of oral discomfort:
Chewing only on one side of the mouth
Bleeding from the mouth
Drooling / excessive salivation
Behavioral changes (no longer wanting to play or cuddle, being crabby)
It is recommended that all adult cats undergo dental X-rays, as this is the best way for a veterinarian to diagnose Tooth Resorption.
Currently, the only effective treatment is the extraction of any affected teeth.