Resorptive Lesions in Cats: Resorptive lesions, also known as cervical line lesions or neck lesions, are a common dental disease in cats where the tooth structure below the gum line is destroyed. The lesions form in the sensitive area where the tooth meets the gum, known as the cervical line or neck.
As the lesions progress, the tooth is weakened and may eventually fracture. Unfortunately, resorptive lesions are irreversible and often quite painful for your cat. The good news is with regular dental checkups, they can be diagnosed and treated early to avoid discomfort and tooth loss.
The exact cause of resorptive lesions is unknown, though genetics, inflammation, and other factors may play a role. They tend to affect certain breeds like Persians, Siamese and Abyssinians more often. The first sign you may notice is a red, inflamed area on your cat’s gums where the tooth meets the gum line or your cat pawing at their mouth.
To properly diagnose resorptive lesions, your vet will perform a thorough oral exam and may require dental x-rays. Treatment options include vital pulp therapy to remove damaged tissue and protect the tooth, root canal therapy for larger lesions, or tooth extraction for severely damaged teeth. With early diagnosis and treatment, resorptive lesions can be well-managed to give your cat long-term comfort and dental health.
Be sure to schedule regular vet checkups, especially as your cat ages, to monitor for any signs of dental disease or resorptive lesions. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and when caught early, resorptive lesions can often be treated conservatively with minimally invasive options to avoid losing teeth.
Signs and Symptoms of Resorptive Lesions
If your cat has resorptive lesions, you may notice some of the following signs:
- Difficulty eating or chewing: Resorptive lesions can be painful, making it hard for your cat to comfortably chew food. You may notice your cat dropping food from their mouth, pawing at their mouth, or eating on one side of their mouth.
- Bad breath: The exposed tooth roots and damage to gums and teeth can lead to infection and abscesses, causing foul breath.
- •Loose or missing teeth: The tooth roots are being dissolved, so teeth may become loose, fall out, or need to be extracted.
- Excessive salivation or drooling: Pain in the mouth may cause drooling. The drool may also contain blood.
- Bleeding from the mouth: You may notice blood on your cat’s fur, food bowl, or toys from bleeding gums or tooth sockets.
- Swelling or redness of the gums: The gums around affected teeth may become inflamed, swollen, and red.
- Nasal discharge: In severe cases, infection can spread to the sinuses, causing nasal discharge, sneezing, or a foul nasal odor.
- Reluctance to groom: If the mouth is painful, your cat may avoid grooming themselves properly. Their fur may appear unkempt and matted.
- Weight loss: Difficulty eating can lead to loss of appetite and weight loss over time if left untreated.
The sooner you have your vet examine your cat, the sooner a treatment plan can be put in place to relieve their discomfort, prevent infection, and stop the progression of damage. With appropriate treatment, most cats suffering from resorptive lesions can live comfortably for many years.
Treatment Options For Resorptive Lesions
Once you have a diagnosis of resorptive lesions in your cat, the next step is determining the best course of treatment. There are a few options available, depending on the severity of the condition. The goal is to eliminate pain, prevent further tooth damage, and maintain your cat’s comfort and health.
The most common treatment is tooth extraction. Removing the affected teeth eliminates the source of pain and infection risk. Your vet will extract any teeth that have extensive damage or resorption. While losing teeth is not ideal, cats can do quite well without them. Their gums will heal over time. Extraction also prevents the spread of resorptive lesions to nearby teeth.
2. Root canal
For less severe cases, a root canal procedure may be recommended to save the tooth. The diseased pulp tissue is removed from the center of the tooth and replaced with a biocompatible filling material. The tooth is then sealed to prevent re-infection. Root canals have a high success rate but may need to be redone in some cases. They do require anesthesia and multiple vet visits.
Applying a protective sealant to exposed dentin may provide temporary relief in some situations. The sealant creates a protective barrier against sensitivity, but it will not stop the progression of resorption and tooth damage. It may need to be reapplied periodically as well. Sealants can be used when extraction or root canal are not options, to provide comfort for the cat’s remaining lifetime.
Will my cat be in pain during treatment?
It’s normal to worry about your cat’s comfort during treatment for resorptive lesions. The good news is, with proper pain management, most cats do not experience significant discomfort. Your vet will likely prescribe pain medication, especially for any procedures like tooth extraction. Let your vet know right away if your cat seems to be in pain at any point so they can make adjustments to the treatment plan.
Will my cat need to have teeth extracted?
In many cases, the most effective way to treat resorptive lesions and prevent recurrence is by extracting the affected teeth. This may involve removing one or more teeth, depending on the number and severity of lesions. Tooth extraction is a commonly performed procedure and, while the healing process requires care and attention, most cats recover comfortably with medication and soft food. Your vet can discuss whether tooth extraction is recommended based on your cat’s unique condition.
How much will treatment cost?
The cost of treatment can vary depending on the specific procedures required, such as tooth extractions, root canals, or other surgeries. On average, you can expect to pay between $500 to $2,000 for a resorptive lesion treatment plan. The initial exam, x-rays, and diagnosis may cost between $200 to $500. Tooth extractions typically range from $200 to $500 per tooth. More complex root canals and surgeries will be on the higher end of the cost spectrum.
How can I prevent resorptive lesions from coming back?
Unfortunately, once a cat develops resorptive lesions, they may recur over time. However, there are a few things you can do to help minimize the chance of new lesions forming:
- Brush your cat’s teeth regularly with a toothpaste formulated for pets to remove tartar and plaque buildup. Plaque is a major contributor to dental disease and resorptive lesions.
- Feed your cat a dental diet or dental treats to help reduce tartar. Some diets and treats are specifically designed to mechanically clean teeth as your cat chews.
- Have your vet examine your cat’s teeth during routine checkups so any new lesions or other issues can be detected early. Early diagnosis and treatment provide the best outcomes.
- Avoid hard chew toys that could potentially damage teeth. Softer rubber or rope toys are better options.
- Make sure your cat stays up to date on all recommended vaccines and medical care. Overall health and immunity play a role in dental health.
- Stop smoking or vaping around your cat. Secondhand smoke is harmful to pets and can increase the risk of dental disease.
With diligent at-home care, routine vet checkups, and early treatment of any new lesions, you can successfully