Cats are so amazing and capable of hiding when they are having trouble that they often get the short end of the stick when it comes to proactive care. One area that many of our feline patients need our help in is the department of dental care.
The staff at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital sees quite a bit of dental disease in all of our four-legged patients. In cats, not only is periodontal disease a big issue, but there is also another beast to contend with. Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions, not so fondly also referred to as FORLs, affect a large number of our cat patients and are something all cat owners should understand.
Understanding Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions
The term feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions is quite the mouthful, and they can be for our cat patients as well. We don’t really understand at this time what causes some cats to be affected by this disease process, but over half of our cat patients over the age of six have them.
FORLs are essentially holes that form in the tooth as a result of the activity of the odontoblasts within the tooth itself. These holes typically form near the gum line and are analogous to the cavities that people suffer, however they have nothing to do with plaque buildup.
We do know that FORLs affect cats tremendously. These sinister little holes can be exquisitely painful. Exposure of the tooth’s pulp cavity can also result in infection. If the hole becomes extensive enough, the crown of the tooth can even break off, leaving roots under the gum line that may result in problems.
Not all cats let us know that they are suffering from FORLs. It is a good idea to make an appointment for us to examine your pet, though, if you notice that your cat is:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Reluctant to allow you to look at the teeth
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Hesitant to eat
- Having bad breath
Fighting the Good Fight
Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions can be frustrating for cat owners as well as veterinarians because we don’t really understand at this time how to prevent or stop them. What we can, do, however, is be proactive about looking for them and aggressive when we find them.
Routine oral examinations are an important part of wellness care for any pet, but especially cats. Frequent anesthetized oral evaluations and dental radiographs are important for us to find these painful lesions early. Many times in the early stages it is impossible to identify these without dental x-ray.
Diagnosis And Treatment
When we find FORLs, the exact type of lesion is identified in order to decide how to best proceed. Class I and II FORLs tend to be early in the course of the disease and may be treated with cleaning and/or enamel restoration techniques.
Class III lesions enter the pulp cavity, while Class IV lesions involve broken roots retained under the gum line. These types of FORLs typically require tooth extraction as they are quite painful. Many cats who suffer from FORL lesions will have all or most of the teeth affected at some point. Although most of these pets lose lots of teeth, they are perfectly functional (and much more comfortable) without them.
Until science and veterinary medicine understand more about this disease process, it remains important for us to work as a team to be sure that our cats are happy and pain free. By bringing your pet in to see us for wellness visits and allowing routine oral examinations as recommended, you can do your part in battling FORLs.