Tooth Resorption In Cats
Diseases of the teeth and gums are common in cats. The two most common dental diseases are “Tooth resorption” and “Feline Gingivostomatitis“, and the severity of each of these conditions can vary significantly. Dental disease in cats can cause serious pain and discomfort, which can impact a cat’s quality of life. In many cases, dental disease causes a cat to stop eating, which leads to a variety of health problems. Today, we’re going to introduce the basic knowledge of “tooth resorption” for cat owners.
What is tooth resorption?
Tooth resorption is a process by which the dentin (a hard tissue that lies beneath the enamel of the tooth) in a tooth (or teeth) erodes and eventually becomes irreparably destroyed. Over time, all areas of an affected tooth, from root to crown, may become involved.
Although tooth resorption can occur on any of the cat’s teeth, the most commonly affected teeth are the premolars of the lower jaws, specifically the third premolars.
The cause of tooth resorption
While the cause for tooth resorption currently remains unknown, but there are 2 types of tooth resorption with different outcomes:
There is destruction of the crown, but radiographically, the root retains a normal appearance with an easily discernible periodontal ligament. This type of tooth resorption has been linked to periodontal disease.
The root appears to be disintegrating and not easily discernible from bone. This is referred to as replacement resorption.
Whatever the underlying cause, the end result is loss of the outer hard tissue of the tooth (enamel, cementum, and dentin). Both types of the disease can affect the crown of the tooth as well as the root. Once the sensitive dentin is exposed, tooth resorption is very painful for cats, and it may cause other health problem. Therefore, cat owners should go to veterinary clinic for treatment as soon as possible.
The Signs of tooth resorption
Cats suffering from tooth resorption have no obvious clinical signs begin at the initial stage, generally with chronic and unnoticeable oral pain. As the disease progresses, there may be more obvious symptoms and referring to a specific and painful condition, including:
- oral bleeding
- Bad breath
- difficulty eating (cat’s appetite appears to be normal, but tries to chew on just one side or swallow it without chewing)
- weight loss
Treatment of tooth resorption
Unfortunately, the most effective treatment will entail extraction of any affected teeth.
In fact, treatment is guided by the radiographic appearance of the tooth resorption. With Type 1 tooth resorption, both the crown and root need to be extracted. With Type 2 tooth resorption, a technique known as crown amputation with intentional root retention is appropriate. Your vet will obtain intraoral radiographs to assess the type of resorption and suggest the best possible treatment to your cat.
However, tooth restoration is not recommended because resorption of the tooth will continue underneath the restoration. Owner should understand that before your decision making.
How to prevent?
It is generally believed that type 1 is caused by periodontal disease, so maintaining good oral hygiene is important and it can partly prevent the problem happening. Cat owners could pay more attention to your cat on daily teeth brushing.
Meanwhile, tooth resorption will easily go undetected without radiographs (X-ray). Annual thorough examinations are recommended for maintenance of oral health and early detection of disease.
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