Feline resorptive lesions (previously known as feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions, FORLs or neck lesions) are a very common cause of dental pain in cats. Studies have shown that at least 50% of cats over the age of 5 years are affected.
Similar lesions can also occur in other species, including man and dogs, but are relatively rare.
Resorptive lesions start as small holes in the tooth, which progress to cause large defects. They are caused by the cat’s own cells (called odontoclasts) destroying the tooth from underneath the enamel, but the exact mechanism is still poorly understood.
Affected teeth are very sensitive, and if the nerve is exposed they can be intensely painful. Often the crown of the tooth snaps off, leaving a painful retained root in the jaw.
Cats with resorptive lesions MAY show symptoms such as reluctance to chew, chewing on one side, drooling, pawing at the mouth, lethargy or bad breath, but the majority of cats will not show any obvious signs and will be suffering in silence.
When your vet examines your cat’s mouth, they may detect visible defects in the tooth, localised inflammation, swelling of the gum to cover the lesion or an area with an increased build-up of calculus. However, in many cases, the lesions may not be visible to the naked eye, especially in a cat who does not want their painful mouth examined. Therefore, examination under general anaesthesia and dental x-rays are essential to properly assess the extent of resorptive lesions, and the treatment required.
The only way to treat resorptive lesions is to extract the affected teeth and/or roots. Depending on the type of resorptive process that is occurring, this may require a relatively simple “crown amputation” (if the tooth roots have been resorbed, as assessed by x-ray), or a more complicated surgical extraction, where the individual tooth roots are painstakingly extracted, and the gum sutured back in place. Fillings are not effective as the resorptive process will continue, and the cat will still be in pain.
At Pennard Vets, our cat dentals are competitively priced as set packages that include the general anaesthetic (monitored by one of our qualified veterinary nurses), intravenous fluids, dental x-rays, dental assessment, extractions as required, descaling and polishing of the teeth, postoperative medication and post dental rechecks. Please contact your local branch if you have any questions or for further details.