Tooth resorption is a problem that can strike cats of any age, breed, or gender, but it's also something many pet parents don't know about. If you want to protect your cat's oral health or you've learned that your cat has tooth resorption, read on to learn more about this disorder, its causes, and treatment.
What It Is
Tooth resorption is a disorder in which the body incorrectly activates the mechanism that allows a kitten's baby teeth to fall out. With baby teeth, the root is reabsorbed into the body, the baby teeth fall out, and new adult teeth move into their place. In adult cats, there's no purpose to this mechanism, but it can sometimes happen to adult teeth. Since adult teeth aren't designed to fall out in the same way, the absorption of the tooth's root can cause extreme pain for your kitty, increase their risk of dental infection, and eventually cause the loss of the tooth.
What Causes It
Vets and scientists aren't exactly certain why this mechanism sometimes reactivates in adult cats. The leading theories include stress, trauma, or genetic factors. Unfortunately, this means there's no way to know if a cat will develop this problem later on in life. While science may eventually shed some light on this problem and help pet owners to know whether their cat may experience it later in life, that isn't yet the case.
In any case, poor tooth dental care doesn't typically cause this problem. While tooth decay and gum disease can put your pet through a world of pain, tooth resorption tends to occur on its own independent of your pet's oral health. Unfortunately, this means that even if you're faithful about brushing your cat's teeth, it may not have an impact on them developing tooth resorption in the future.
If your cat has been diagnosed with tooth resorption or you suspect that they may have it, your vet will follow certain steps to first diagnose and then treat the problem.
Tooth resorption typically can't be diagnosed simply with a visual examination. Your vet will x-ray your cat's mouth to determine if the roots are being absorbed back into the body. If any of the teeth show signs of this, it will mean your cat's affected teeth need to be removed.
Tooth removal in cats is a minor surgery that's performed under general anesthesia. It's typically very safe, especially if your vet intubates your kitty to help them to breathe while they're anesthetized. In most cases, your cat will be able to come home the same day and should be able to go back to eating normal food as soon as their gums have healed.
Getting tooth resorption treated can help to prevent this disorder from causing more pain and suffering in your cat's mouth. If you notice that your cat is pawing at its face or crying while trying to eat, it may indicate that there's an oral health problem. Get to a vet right away if you suspect that your cat's teeth are causing it pain. To learn more, contact a veterinary surgical services clinic near you!