Q: We had our 10-year-old calico cat Samantha examined and vaccinated last week. At her appointment, her doctor said she had a cavity in one of her teeth that was causing pain and that it would likely need to be removed. We are OK with her having her teeth cleaned, but we certainly don’t want any teeth pulled since she doesn’t act like she is in pain. In fact, she has gained a pound since last year. Is there something we can do to prevent the tooth from becoming painful?
A: Cavities in our feline friends are one of the more common and frustrating problems we encounter. This syndrome of tooth destruction happens far too frequently. There are many theories as to what causes it and multiple treatments.
What we do know is that feline odontoclastic resorption lesions (FORL), or cervical line lesions or neck lesions all refer to the same type of tooth decay in some part of the tooth. No one is exactly sure what causes them, but medical treatments are not very effective and diet, at least foods with sugar, are not responsible for their development, as in humans. In most cases, removal of the entire tooth or at least the crown of the tooth is necessary to solve the problem.
Pain is an important component of this disease, but cats can be very adept at concealing pain. In fact, a majority of cats won’t demonstrate pain by failing to eat or drooling or withdrawing from their family. Your veterinarian, however, can often probe the affected area under anesthesia and demonstrate teeth chattering or other signs that the tooth is causing pain.
Under anesthesia and with dental radiographs, your veterinarian may, in fact, find other teeth that are affected and need some type of therapy. Your friend will benefit from any extraction and should have less pain even if not noticeable by you. Good luck!
Questions? Send them to Dr. Sandeman, Home & Garden, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801. Or, email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Sandeman cannot answer letters or email personally, but questions of general interest will be answered in this column.