Tooth Resorption in Cats: Can It Be Reversed? How To Treat Tooth Resorption in Cats

Tooth Resorption in Cats: Can It Be Reversed?

Tooth resorption in cats is a painful dental condition where the bodyโ€™s cells break down and reabsorb the tooth structure. Learn more about the types, causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

Tooth resorption, a common and painful dental condition, affects a significant number of domestic cats. It is a progressive condition in which the body's own cells break down and reabsorb the tooth structure, starting at the roots and working their way up toward the crown. This condition can lead to severe dental pain, difficulty with eating, and weight loss.

In this article, we will discuss its causes, symptoms, treatment options, and prevention steps.

Types of Feline Tooth Resorption

There are two main types of tooth resorption in cats: idiopathic inflammatory resorption and secondary resorption.

Idiopathic inflammatory resorption (IIR) is the most common type of tooth resorption in cats. It is considered to be an immune-mediated condition in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys the tooth structure. This type of resorption typically affects the upper premolars and molars, and it progresses from the cervical area (near the gumline) toward the crown of the tooth. The cause of IIR is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to changes in the cells that make up the tooth.

Secondary resorption is a less common type of tooth resorption in cats, and it is caused by an injury or trauma to the tooth or by a developmental abnormality such as a malformed tooth. This type of resorption typically affects the incisors and canines, and it progresses from the crown of the tooth toward the roots.

Both types of tooth resorption are progressive and can lead to severe dental pain and difficulty eating. Early detection and intervention are crucial for managing the condition and preserving the affected tooth.



The exact cause of tooth resorption in cats is not fully understood, but the following are some possible contributing factors:

  1. Immune-mediated response: Tooth resorption may be caused by an immune-mediated response, in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the tooth structure.

  2. Infection: Some studies have shown that some cats with tooth resorption have a higher level of certain viruses in their saliva, suggesting that a viral or bacterial infection may contribute to the development of this condition.

  3. Genetics: Some cats may be genetically predisposed to develop tooth resorption.

  4. Trauma: Injury or trauma to a tooth can cause secondary resorption.

  5. Developmental abnormality: A malformed tooth can lead to secondary resorption

  6. Dental plaque and tartar buildup: Plaque and tartar can accumulate on teeth and, if not removed, can lead to dental issues such as gingivitis, and periodontitis, which can affect teeth and cause tooth resorption.

It is likely that multiple factors contribute to the development of tooth resorption in cats, and more research is needed to fully understand the underlying cause of this condition.


Feline tooth resorption symptoms vary from:

  • Swelling and redness of the gums around the affected tooth

  • Loss of appetite or difficulty eating

  • Drooling or difficulty swallowing

  • Reluctance to allow petting or grooming around the face and mouth

  • Bleeding from the mouth

  • Visible holes or wear on the affected tooth

  • Loose or mobile teeth

  • Weight loss

It's important to note that cats are good at hiding pain, and tooth resorption can be a silent disease, as such symptoms may not be present until the condition is quite advanced. Therefore it's important to have regular dental check-ups with your veterinarian.


The diagnosis of tooth resorption in cats typically begins with a physical examination and a thorough dental examination which allows the vet to distinguish between periodontal illnessesgingivostomatitis, and tooth resorption. These diagnoses include:

  • A visual examination of the mouth and teeth to look for signs of swelling, redness, and holes in the teeth.

  • Dental X-rays to get a better view of the extent of the resorption and the surrounding bone.

  • Oral examination under general anesthesia for a more thorough and precise assessment.

It's crucial that your veterinarian examine both the open and hidden teeth (like the roots, molars, and the back of the jaw). Also, keep in mind that early detection and intervention are crucial in managing tooth resorption, so it's important to have your cat's teeth checked by a veterinarian on a regular basis.


Unfortunately, tooth resorption in cats cannot be reversed. However, some treatments include:

  1. Surgical extraction of the affected tooth or teeth: This is the most common treatment for tooth resorption and is performed under general anesthesia. It is usually the best option to alleviate pain and discomfort, as well as to prevent the spread of the resorption to other teeth.

  2. Crown amputation: This surgery involves removing the crown of the tooth (the visible part above the gum line) and leaving the roots in place. This is a less invasive procedure and can preserve a functional tooth if only a portion of the tooth is affected.

  3. Dental cleaning and polishing: After the surgery, your veterinarian may recommend a dental cleaning and polishing of the remaining teeth to prevent future dental issues.

  4. Pain management medication: After the surgery, your cat will need to be prescribed pain management medication to help them recover comfortably.

  5. Management of underlying conditions: It's also important to manage any underlying conditions that may be contributing to the development of tooth resorption, such as a viral or bacterial infection, to help prevent the condition from recurring. In case of bacterial infections, antibiotics like amoxicillin and clindamycin may be prescribed.

  6. Oral hygiene management: To maintain the oral hygiene of your cat, it's important to brush their teeth, and use dental gels, dental support diets, dental chews, and toys to help keep their teeth healthy.

It's important to discuss the best course of treatment with your veterinarian, as the treatment options will depend on the stage and severity of the resorption, as well as your cat's overall health.


If you want to minimize the risk of tooth resorption for your cat, ensure the following:

  • Regular dental check-ups

  • Daily oral hygiene

  • Dental products

  • Nutrition

  • Reducing dental trauma

You should note that the process of tooth resorption is a progressive condition that can be difficult to detect and treat in its later stages. By taking steps to prevent the condition, you can help ensure your cat stays healthy and comfortable throughout their life.

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