The most common dental disorder diagnosed in cats is tooth resorption, also known as a dental neck lesion. A resorptive lesion can be genetic, or it can occur when an excessive amount of dental tartar and calculus accumulate on the tooth, causing gingivitis and parts of the tooth to resorb, or dissolve. This tartar build-up increases inflammation below the gumline in the lining of the pocket that surrounds the root of the tooth, creating bone loss, similar to a cavity.
A dental radiograph is an important element in diagnosing a resorptive lesion, because it shows the damage to the root that cannot be seen above the gumline. In the radiograph shown below, the premolar mostly to the left shows a “moth-eaten” appearance that is easily seen on the roots, showing resorption. Another finding in these lesions is pulp exposure in an area of the tooth that is resorbing, shown in the picture to the right of the radiograph. This pulp exposure can be very easily seen to the naked eye in most resorptive lesions. The most common treatment is extracting the tooth to not only get rid of the pain for the cat, but also prevent any further periodontal disease and infection spreading to the adjacent teeth and jawbone.
In most cases, the owner will not be aware of this problem without a full oral exam done by the veterinarian. Cats can be very subtle in showing signs that they have any sort of pain or discomfort in their mouth. Sometimes their behavior can change in that they are simply not acting like themselves or hiding in unusual places. More obvious signs are pawing at their face, no interest in food, swelling of the upper or lower jaw, drooling, teeth chattering, weight loss, “bad breath”, or difficulty chewing food.
=The ideal way to prevent feline resorptive lesions in your cat is routine oral care at home, including brushing, feeding Feline Dental Health Diet by Purina (we provide samples), or applying an oral gel on the gums daily. Also, complimentary oral exams are recommended between annual visits to keep up with your cat’s dental progress. Another way to prevent this dental disease is by professional dental cleanings, done by a Licensed Veterinary Nurse at Kiln Creek Animal Care. At this time, the nurse will assess your cat’s teeth for any signs of early tooth resorption and set up necessary oral exams.