The Case Of The Missing Cat Chompers: Cats And Tooth Resorption

16 July 2015
 Categories: , Blog

If you're a dedicated and knowledgeable pet parent, you probably already know how important it is to take care of your cat's dental hygiene. Cats need their teeth brushed and cleaned by a professional regularly to prevent tooth decay and other oral problems. However, did you know that even a cat with a clean mouth can still potentially lose its teeth? An ailment called tooth resorption may be making your cat's teeth disappear as you read this.

What Tooth Resorption Is

Tooth resorption is a disorder that some cats have that cause their teeth to be reabsorbed into the body. This disorder is completely separate from dental hygiene, so a cat with clean teeth is just as likely to have it as one who is suffering from tooth decay.

Essentially, what tooth resorption does to your cat's teeth is it breaks the tooth down from the inside out. The root and pulp are reabsorbed back into your cat's body, and the tooth eventually either falls out or is entirely reabsorbed.

What Causes It

Tooth resorption is one of those strange disorders that isn't fully understood by scientists and veterinarians just yet. There are, however, some prevailing theories as to what might be the cause:

  • Immune Response - Some scientists believe that the resorption of teeth may be caused by the cat's immune system not recognizing their teeth as part of their body. Like other autoimmune disorders, the immune system may be attacking the teeth, causing them to break down and become reabsorbed.
  • Age-Inappropriate Resorption - Kittens normally experience resorption of the root and pulp of their baby teeth, which is what allows them to fall out and make room for the new, permanent teeth. Some scientists think that the body is repeating this process with adult teeth, even though it's unnecessary as there isn't a third set of teeth to move in.

What You Can Do About It  

If you're worried about your cat developing this disorder, you should make sure to see a veterinarian regularly for check-ups and dental cleanings. If you're already doing this, great! If your cat's vet notices that there are missing teeth, it may indicate that resorption has occurred. An x-ray can reveal whether or not there's active resorption occurring, and if it shows that there is, your vet can help to prevent infections and other secondary problems by removing the affected teeth.

Unfortunately, cat tooth resorption remains somewhat of a mystery to vets and scientists alike. This is why it's so important for your cat to get regular, professional dental care; brushing your cat's teeth is a great step, but can't replace vet visits. To find out more, contact a veterinary clinic in Markham.