This post is in honor of Lorie Huston, who has written many articles for Floppycats.com. Lorie, unfortunately, recently passed away and the cat world lost a great soul. RIP, Lorie.
Guest Post by Lorie Huston, DVM
Please join Lorie on her website – Pet Health Care Gazette
Feline oral resorptive lesions are common dental issues seen in cats. The American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) reports that “60% of cats over 6 years of age have at least one, and those that have one usually have more.”
What Are Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions?
Also known as tooth resorption (TR), neck lesions, cervical line lesions, and feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLS), this tooth abnormality can cause a great deal of pain for your cat and can even be responsible for behavioral changes as a result of the pain.
The exact cause of these resorptive lesions is unknown. There have many theories, including exposure to certain viruses, breed prevalence, chronic inflammation of the mouth and gums, and high vitamin D levels in cat food. But the definitive cause remains elusive.
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According to the AVDS, “The lesions will usually start out as little erosions along the gumline with associated inflammation to the gums in the area. They can progress to large holes in the teeth, and eventually can destroy most of the tooth. In severe cases, the entire crown of the tooth can be lost, with only the roots remaining.”
What Are the Symptoms?
Though these lesions are painful to your cat, detecting that pain is often challenging. Your cat may prefer to chew on one side of her mouth or she may stop grooming properly. You may see a change in attitude, with your cat becoming irritable or sullen, or even hiding. Your cat may also chatter her teeth.
How Are Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of these lesions involves a thorough oral examination and radiographs (x-rays) of the mouth. The oral examination and radiographs will require anesthesia to be completed efficiently, effectively, and without pain for your cat.
What Is the Treatment?
Ignoring these lesions and seeking no treatment is not an option. These lesions are excruciatingly painful and will affect the quality of your cat’s life.
Many veterinarians recommend the extraction of any tooth affected, regardless of the severity of the lesion. These veterinarians feel that, because these lesions will progress and will eventually require extraction, removing the tooth is the best option from the start.
Other veterinarians may attempt to restore the tooth if the lesion is small. Restoration involves filling the defect in the tooth and may also involve a root canal. However, if this option is chosen, it is important to monitor the tooth for return or progression of the lesion. It’s quite likely that, in time, the tooth will need to be extracted.
However, at least for a time, your cat will have a functional tooth.
Your veterinarian will help you make the right choice for treatment, based on the results of your cat’s oral examination and radiographs.
Many cats, once treated, exhibit an amazing recovery. Often, cats that have become irritable or withdrawn return to being affectionate. Returning to a pain-free existence certainly increases your cat’s quality of life.