The Hidden Cause of Oral Pain in your Cat
Just a cat with a yucky tooth and inflamed gums...? Or could it be a feline oral resorptive lesion?
WHAT IS IT? Feline oral resorptive lesions, or ‘FORLs’, are a common and painful dental condition in cats where teeth begin to erode, exposing the sensitive inner layers of the tooth, eventually destroying it altogether.
WHERE? The lesions generally appear at the site where the tooth meets the gum and often the lesion extends below the gum line. However, some may look like a hole or concavity in the tooth near the gum line.
DIAGNOSING? Given the nature of the signs these lesions can be difficult to see during a vet consultation on a lively patient and even more tricky to assess severity properly without the use of x-rays (some lesions cannot even be seen without x-rays as an inflamed gum can cover it completely!).
HOW ARE THEY CAUSED? This erosion is caused by overactivity of a special type of cell, the ‘odontoclast’, whose normal role is to destroy old or damaged tooth material. The reasons why this process occurs in cats are not well understood, but one possible trigger is oral inflammation caused by plaque and calculus accumulation on teeth. FORLs are most common in cats older than 5 years of age.
Resorptive lesions are painful and cats can be very secretive and are brilliant at hiding their pain. They may be suffering silently! For this reason, we’re here to help you and can assess your cat’s mouth for evidence of FORLs, or any other form of dental disease, visible on exam.
Here are some signs to look out for in your cat at home:
- Increased amount of calculus (tartar) covering the teeth
- Inflamed gums
- Increased salivation or oral bleeding
- Reluctance to eat hard food and/or suddenly prefers to eat soft food
If your cat is showing any of these signs or you're concerned about dental health please don't hesitate to contact us and book an appointment! We are only too happy to help and if your cat requires dentistry, we will ensure that any hidden problems are identified. If your cat does indeed have a FORL - depending on the depth of the cavity, the teeth/tooth may require extraction, after which your kitty will be a picture of content with a clean, comfortable and healthy mouth.