What is tooth resorption (TR)?
TR, tooth resorption, causes the tooth's hard tissue to gradually break down. It usually starts at the root level (under the gums) and then gradually spreads to the crown and gives rise to holes. Eventually the tooth can fall out. When the disease affects the crown, it causes great pain and suffering for affected cats. What causes the disease is still unknown.
Symptoms of TR in cats
- Reduced appetite
- inflamed and red gums close to the teeth
- Changed chewing pattern: your cat may chew more on one side or drop the food
- Irritated behaviour or pulls away from you
- Damaged teeth
- Matted fur: your cat may not be able to take care of it's fur if it has a sore mouth
First affects the teeth in the lower jaw
TR is usually first seen in the lower jaw, but all teeth can be affected. Several teeth may be affected and the degree of severity may vary between different teeth in the same individual. Owners may seek veterinary care due to reduced appetite, but many times the cat manages to hide symptoms and TR is only discovered during a routine dental examination.
How TR is diagnosed
The diagnosis of TR is made by a thorough oral examination of the cat. When examining the teeth, everything from superficial damage in the tooth enamel to total loss of the tooth can be seen. A growth of gum over the tooth damage can be seen and teeth with holes right into the pulp can be found.
TR can be difficult to detect at an early stage as the attack often begins below the gum line. The cat's teeth should therefore be x-rayed to detect changes below the gum line.
As it can be difficult and in many cases impossible to check a cat's teeth while awake, the cat must be sedated when it is to be examined. The cat can also suffer from tartar and periodontitis at the same time, so the teeth may need to be cleaned before the examination.
Treatment of cat with TR
Teeth affected by the dental disease and causing pain are extracted. In some cases, only the crown is removed. Currently, there is no other treatment that gives lasting good results. TR can cause all teeth to be affected, although this is not common. A cat with TR whose affected teeth have been extracted can live a long and good life without teeth. It may be necessary to adapt the cat's food.
Can I prevent TR?
Since the cause of TR (FORL) is not fully known, it is also difficult to know how best to prevent the disease. Brushing the teeth does not prevent the cat from being affected, but it gives you a good overview of your cat's gums, teeth and if your cat has a sore mouth.
Common questions and answers about tooth resorption