Tooth resorption is a dental condition seen in cats, in which a tooth or multiple teeth begin to break down and gradually wear away. The erosion starts with the enamel, then the dentin and later reaches to all parts of the tooth. The entire tooth may go away and all you can see finally is a bulge on the gums.
This condition can cause extreme pain to the cat and needs to be addressed by a vet. Most of the times, tooth resorption in cats goes unnoticed and the cat may suffer a lot due to this. Tooth resorption has become a common condition affecting the cat population in the recent years. It is often difficult for the owners to determine whether the cat has any dental problem. You should always take note of any slight behavioral changes in your pet and notify your vet.
- Excessive drooling
- Occurrence of a cavity like hole in tooth
- Bleeding from the gums
- Changes in eating. Your cat may face difficulties in chewing food and may tilt its head to one side when eating.
- Keeps dropping food from its mouth while eating
- Eats less or prefers certain foods over others
- Changes in behaviour. May show less interest in being cuddled and in other regular activities.
Treatment options for tooth resorption
If you suspect your pet has tooth resorption, your vet first checks it orally to see the signs. It is often very difficult to analyse the issue and damage without careful examination. So, the cat may have to be anaesthetised for a thorough examination. X-rays help in evaluating the degree of damage and other oral problems. When the condition and its severity are found, your vet may suggest one of these suitable treatments.
In case if the condition is detected at an early stage, your vet may choose to fill the tooth lesions, as they are still small. This helps in controlling the pain of your cat, but the procedure does not fix or cure the actual problem. The tooth may continue to erode slowly and few years later, if it gets too severe, the affected tooth may need to be pulled out.
Most of the times, veterinary doctors suggest extraction of the tooth (or teeth) when the lesions are still small, because once the condition gets too severe, the pain becomes excruciating and the teeth become too fragile to operate upon. Extraction takes care of the problem and your cat will feel better in two weeks.
The exact cause for tooth resorption is not known, but studies suggest that the presence of vitamin D in excessive quantities in packaged cat food may be the reason. You may want to switch to a brand that is low in vitamin D. Your vet may also suggest using wet food, if your cat has had more than one extraction, to prevent discomfort in eating.