Most cats in the household like to make up their own agenda; choosing when they would like to be pet, when they would like to be played with, and when they would like to eat. When your cat does not want your affection, they have no problem showing you they want none of it (through their claws and teeth!). So, it isn’t a surprise that most cat owners don’t get a very good look into their cat’s mouths.
And although getting a look into your cat’s mouth can be challenging; we are here to go over why it is so important.
There is an oral disease, which has been researched to affect one-third of all cats. This disease of the teeth is known as FORLS (Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions). Sometimes referred to as “Cat Cavities”, FORLS are completely different from what we humans call cavities in our teeth. Although both forms create holes in the teeth, FORLS will look like the gums are taking over the tooth (resorbing) where cavities in humans there will be a black hole (caused by bacteria) which decays further into the tooth.
FORLS are lesions that start to develop usually where the gum line meets the tooth, or below the gum line where we cannot see with the naked eye. These lesions start at any part of the tooth from the root to the crown, and can eventually expose the sensitive pulp which houses all of the nerves. Eventually the body will reabsorb the entirety of the whole tooth; roots and all – but while that is happening it is extremely painful for your cat.
Most cats don’t like to show us that they have any type of oral pain and will continue to eat; some cats will just stop eating altogether. Here are some signs that your cat could silently be battling with FORLs:
- Tilting their head and chewing on one side of the mouth while eating kibble
- Excessive drooling
- Food preference from dry to canned/softened food
- Eating less
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Dropping kibble out of the mouth while trying to chew
If you are able to get a good look into your cat’s mouth, here are some things to look for:
- Very red/inflamed gum line
- Teeth that looks like they are being “eaten up” by the gingiva
- Missing teeth
- Calculus/tartar build up on teeth
- Loose or “wiggly” teeth
The only treatment for a resorbing tooth is extraction unfortunately, as the body will continue to attack the tooth and cause pain until removed completely. Even though an affected resorbing tooth is extracted, in the future your cat may develop more lesions on other teeth. FORLS are an ongoing, usually lifelong issue which can ultimately result in all of the teeth being extracted over periods of time (can be month to years).
One of the biggest concerns we hear from owners about extracting teeth are “How will my cat eat afterwards?” And our answer is always “Much Better!” Once the extraction sites are healed (which usually takes around 7-10 days), your cat can now enjoy their food with no pain. Even cats with full mouth extractions can still eat kibble, and there is always canned food!
At Cypress View Veterinary Clinic, our team of Registered Veterinary Technologists perform full mouth digital x-rays on any feline that comes in for a dental cleaning, even if the teeth look fine on the outside. The reasoning for this is resorbing lesions can start anywhere on a tooth such as the roots.
Research still does not know why FORL’s develop in the first place in cats, and why they are so prone to developing this painful oral disease. One theory is the irritation from a build-up of plaque and tartar along the gum line can jump start the body to attacking the teeth and start the resorption. That would give bigger importance to dental home care to reduce the build up of plaque on the teeth, or yearly dental cleanings.
If you are unsure about the health of your feline’s mouth, our team is here for you. Our Registered Veterinary Technologists are always happy to give you a dental consultation in clinic and go over dental home care that you can do for your kitty, and/or what a dental cleaning would entail. Please call us today and we can book you time with a technologist!