Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Tooth Resorption in Cats

Tooth resorption is a common issue that affects adult cats. Unfortunately, it often goes untreated. In today's post, our Bedford vets share the common signs of tooth resorption in cats, the different types and what can be done to treat it.

What is tooth resorption in cats?

Tooth resorption occurs when the dentin (the hard tissue beneath a tooth's enamel) of a single or multiple teeth begins to erode. Untreated, this process can result in irreparable damage, as over time, tooth resorption can affect all of the components in your cat's affected tooth. Your cat's rotten tooth will result in its body breaking down and absorbing the structures that form its tooth.

The process of tooth resorption starts with the outer enamel breaking down and continues toward the tooth's center. Eventually, most of the tooth is gone, leaving only a raised bump on the gums. The premolars in the lower jaw (generally the third premolars) are the teeth most often affected by tooth resorption.

Sometimes, the result will be a hole in the tooth that closely resembles a cavity. However, the difference between tooth resorption and cavities is that cavities result from bacteria, and the body's biological process causes resorption. Cavities are also fairly rare in cats, so if you see a hole in your cat's tooth that looks like a cavity, there's a chance that it is actually tooth resorption.

Are there different types of tooth resorption?

Two different types of tooth resorption can affect cats. The type your cat has will be determined by how the tooth appears on an X-ray. When a veterinarian takes a radiograph of a normal tooth, it should show the tooth root with a thin, dark outline surrounding it that separates the root from the bone. The dark outline represents the periodontal ligament, which is a normal anatomic element that connects the bone and the root.

The two different types of tooth resorption are:

Type 1 Tooth Resorption

  • If your cat has type 1 tooth resorption, it means the tooth's crown is damaged, but on the X-ray, the root looks normal and the periodontal ligament can be easily recognized.

Type 2 Tooth Resorption

  • Also referred to as replacement resorption, if your cat is diagnosed with type 2 tooth resorption, the tooth root will look like it is disintegrating, making it hard to differentiate from the bone on the radiograph.

How do I know if my cat has tooth resorption?

Cats tend to hide any pain they experience. So, although resorption can be very painful for cats, it can be hard for owners to recognize.

Here are some of the symptoms of tooth resorption in cats that you should watch for:

  • Increased Salivation
  • Difficulty Eating
  • Oral Bleeding
  • Behavioral Changes

How can tooth resorption in cats be treated?

If you think your cat may have tooth resorption, call your vet immediately to book an examination for your kitty. If your veterinarian suspects your feline friend has this condition, they will conduct diagnostic tests like X-rays and a clinical screening while your cat is under anesthesia. Your vet may also perform a complete dental screening. Without these tests, your cat's tooth resorption will go undiagnosed. If your cat's tooth resorption goes untreated, it will continue to become more severe, causing your cat unnecessary pain.

Because this condition can be difficult for pet parents to recognize, it's important to bring your kitty to the vet for routine dental exams and cleanings to give your vet a chance to detect it in its earliest forms.

If your vet diagnoses your cat with type 1 tooth resorption, they will likely need to extract your cat's tooth root and crown. If your kitty has type 2 tooth resorption, your vet may need to conduct a crown amputation with intentional root retention. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat showing concerning symptoms related to dental issues? Contact our Bedford vets to schedule an oral examination for your cat.

We're accepting new patients! Book your pet's first appointment today.

(914) 666-8061 Contact