When cats get cavities - Dr. Marty Becker


When cats get cavities

Monday, Apr 29th, 2019 | By Dr. Marty Becker

If your cat is drooling, you’ll want to head for the vet. That’s because she could have something lodged in her mouth or have ingested a toxin. But there’s another likely cause, and it’s one we don’t often think of when it comes to cats: a cavity. Here’s how I explained it to a reader.

Q: My cat has started drooling frequently, and I can’t figure out why. What could cause this?

A: A number of things can cause cats to drool, including a foreign object stuck in the mouth or ingestion of a toxic substance. But one of the most common is the development of cavities.

Cats may not have a sweet tooth, but they can develop cavities, known as resorptive lesions. They start inside the tooth and move outward toward the pulp — or even exposing it. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a tooth injury that exposed the pulp, but it’s extremely painful!

The result can be a cat who drools or finds it painful to eat. You may notice your cat picking up a piece of food and then dropping it. She’s not playing; it hurts because the tooth is so sensitive.

Research shows that nearly half of all cats older than 5 years have at least one tooth affected by a resorptive lesion. Your veterinarian may point out a small red area at the gumline that’s characteristic of the condition. In other instances, the lesions may be identified only through dental X-rays.

Cats don’t get fillings for their cavities. Instead, affected teeth are removed while the cat is under anesthesia. Feline teeth are small and fragile, so it takes care to remove the entire tooth, including the part below the gumline. Once teeth with RLs are gone, the pain goes away, too. And your cat will be able to eat comfortably, even with a few missing teeth.

This is why I always recommend that cats (and dogs) be checked twice a year, from teeth to tail, to make sure they aren’t suffering any painful conditions. Your pet will thank you!

Read more in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.