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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.

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WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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