Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions (FORL’s) are a common, painful problem in cats. In this disease, the cat’s own body destroys their teeth by resorption. In the early stages, the gums are inflamed around the affected tooth as the outer layer of cementum is destroyed. As the disease progresses, more layers of the tooth are destroyed all the way down to the pulp. Eventually, the entire top or crown of the tooth is lost and the area will be covered with gingiva. Look closely at the base of the canine tooth to see the destruction of the tooth. This is called a ‘neck lesion’ because it affects the neck of the crown.
FORL’s are extremely painful! When I touched it with a probe the cat’s jaw shook even though she was under anesthesia. After the extraction of this tooth, the cat woke up with a smile on her face. She was pain free for the first time in months.
Since the cause of FORL’s is unknown, prevention is impossible. I recommend weekly oral exams at home for all my feline patients to catch the disease early. Look for inflamed gums around the teeth combined with foul breath. Other clinical signs include problems eating, decreased appetite, weight loss, drooling and quivering of the jaw from pain.