Ask A Vet: Why Is It Important To Care About Your Cat’s Teeth?



Dental disease in cats is not something that people talk about. Because cats do not typically pant in our faces like dogs do, their bad breath can go unnoticed. Cats are susceptible to tartar build up and dental infections, just like dogs. But did you know that cats commonly get a dental condition that hurts like a raw nerve with every breath and every bite of food?

These horrific lesions are called Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORL). Resorptive lesions occur when cells that are responsible for normal remodeling of the tooth become over active and reabsorb normal tooth structure too. They are excruciating because they seem to expose raw nerves.

The American Veterinary Dental Society estimates that 60% of cats over the age of 6 will have at least one painful resorptive lesion. These lesions are so agonizing that even under general anesthesia, touching the teeth will cause the jaw to twitch, but they usually are below the gum line where cat owners cannot see them and well, the cats aren’t talking! In fact, cats would prefer to hide their pain because they know instinctively that in nature, only the strong survive.

Periodontal disease is no picnic either and most cats actually have both processes going on at the same time. If there is infection in your cat’s mouth, it can impact other important body systems. Untreated dental disease will impact your cat’s life and you won’t even know it was your fault for not addressing it.

Just because you can’t see her pain does not mean that it is not there. Dental pain impacts your cat’s quality of life. Every single cat needs a professional dental plan and deserves to have disease assessed and managed.

Ask your veterinarian to help you make sure your cat does not have oral resorptive lesions and if she does, find out what the plan is to get her some help. Don’t let your friend suffer in silence.

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Written by Dr. Kathryn Primm
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