You Make The Diagnosis: Dental Disease

A month ago, I anesthetized my own cat for an oral evaluation and periodontal treatment.  This is also commonly referred to as a ‘dental’.  On visual examination, I noticed mild inflammation of the gums but no other problems in the crowns of the teeth.  The next step was to take x-rays of Tigre’s mouth.  Look at the image of the teeth on the right side of his lower jaw.  What is wrong with Tigre’s mouth?


Diagnosis:  Feline Oral Resorptive Lesion

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 center of the first tooth.  See the large ‘hole’ in the tooth.  I removed the tooth and covered the area with a gingival flap.  Tigre recovered well and now has a pain free bite.   

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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