Can Cats Get Cavities? Understanding Feline Tooth Resorption

Photo a a brown, white, and black cat standing outside on gravel with green trees in background

Can Cats Get Cavities? Understanding Feline Tooth Resorption

Cats are renowned for their independence, graceful demeanor, and enigmatic charm. However, beneath their elegant facade, they share common vulnerabilities with humans, including dental issues. While cavities are a prevalent concern in human dentistry, in feline oral health, a condition known as Feline Tooth Resorption (FTR) takes precedence. In this article, we’ll answer the common question, “Can cats get cavities?” and also explain Feline Tooth Resorption.


Can Cats Get Cavities?


The short answer is no. Cats don’t develop cavities in the same way humans do. Cavities, also known as dental caries, typically result from bacterial acids eroding tooth enamel over time. However, feline tooth enamel differs from human enamel in its composition, making it less susceptible to decay caused by acidic substances.


Understanding Feline Tooth Resorption (FTR)


While cavities may not afflict cats, they are susceptible to a unique dental condition called Feline Tooth Resorption (FTR), sometimes referred to as cervical line lesions or feline cavities. FTR is a progressive and painful disease characterized by the breakdown and destruction of tooth structure, starting at or below the gumline.


Causes of Feline Tooth Resorption


The precise cause of Feline Tooth Resorption remains elusive, but several factors may contribute to its development:


  1. Genetics: Certain breeds, such as Siamese and Persians, appear to be more predisposed to FTR, suggesting a genetic component to the condition.
  2. Dental Plaque and Tartar: Poor oral hygiene and the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth can exacerbate FTR by providing a conducive environment for bacterial growth.
  3. Immune System Dysfunction: FTR is believed to involve an abnormal immune response, where the cat’s immune system attacks the tooth structures, leading to their gradual breakdown.

Symptoms of Feline Tooth Resorption


Identifying FTR in cats can be challenging, as symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the condition. However, common signs to watch out for include excessive drooling, reluctance to eat or chew, pawing at the mouth, bleeding or inflamed gums, bad breath, and tooth sensitivity or pain.


Treatment Options for Feline Tooth Resorption


Unfortunately, there is no cure for Feline Tooth Resorption, and affected teeth cannot be salvaged. However, treatment aims to alleviate pain and discomfort, prevent further progression of the disease, and preserve the cat’s overall oral health. Treatment options may include dental extractions and ongoing monitoring with dental radiographs.


Prevention is Key


While Feline Tooth Resorption cannot always be prevented, maintaining good oral hygiene practices can help reduce the risk and severity of the condition. Regular dental examinations, professional dental cleanings and dental radiographs, and home dental care, including tooth brushing with VOHC-approved toothpaste, dental diets, and dental treats, are essential preventive measures for feline dental health.


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