Dental Problems in Cats
Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions
Feline oral resorptive lesions (FORLs) can be found in anywhere from 28 to
67 percent of all adult cats. These are lesions on the teeth themselves, and
range from barely penetrating the enamel at the neck of a tooth right above the
gum line, to full-blown loss of the entire crown with gum tissues growing over
the remaining root tip. The molars and premolars are most commonly affected,
but these lesions can appear on any tooth and on any surface of a tooth.
Once the outer layer of enamel is gone, the teeth may become quite painful
to the touch. The actual ringlike lesions can be seen, if you can examine the
cat’s mouth. Teeth may break off at the damaged sites, and cats sometimes show
“jaw chattering” if the area is touched, due to pain. Many cats will not eat
well because of the discomfort.
Many potential causes have been offered for this problem, ranging from
existing periodontitis to viral exposures to renal or kidney problems. Any cat
can suffer from this problem, although Siamese and Abyssinians seem
predisposed. Shearing forces from eating dry cat food or highly acidic diets
have also been suggested.
Your cat will need a full dental examination and treatment under general anesthesia. Oral X-rays will be
taken to evaluate all the teeth.
Treatment: Some veterinarians have replaced the damaged enamel with glass
ionomers, but this is not done routinely and is not usually successful. In most
cases, it is best to simply remove the affected teeth. Pain medications and antibiotics may be needed as
part of treatment.