What's hidden beneath the surface...
This cat came to us a few weeks back for an annual health assessment and vaccination. During her physical examination, one of our vets noticed that the tip of her canine tooth was missing! The owner didn’t know of any trauma the cat could have had (falling off high places, being in a fight or being hit by a car), so where the tip of this tooth disappeared to was a mystery!
As broken teeth in dogs and cats can cause pain and lead to serious infections of the tooth and the surrounding bone, this cat was booked in for a dental investigation under general anaesthetic a few days later. What we found under general anaesthetic was shocking, but all too common…
In the few days between the vaccination and the procedure, she had developed a ‘draining tract’. This is a hole in the gum where blood and pus has burst out and is a common indicator of an underlying infection!
A dental x-ray was taken which revealed why this was happening… The whole root of the tooth was missing!!! This lead us to the diagnosis of ‘Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions’ aka ‘FORLS’. This cat had her canine tooth removed, and another x-ray was taken to make sure that no bits were left behind.
FORLS is a common condition in cats which remains a bit of a mystery… it a condition where the tooth will ‘resorb’ and form potentially painful holes. These holes can be in the crown (the exposed part of the tooth), the root (the tooth hidden under the gums) or both.
The Veterinary industry is not 100% sure why this happens, but removing the affected teeth is usually required and ensures that infection and pain does not persist.