Feline Tooth Resorption

Cervical Line Lesions. Neck Lesions. Resorptive lesions. Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions. Feline Tooth Resorption is the new name for a common condition that causes cats to lose their teeth.

Courtesy of the American Veterinary Dental College

The condition is believed to occur in 29% to 38% of the “healthy” cat population, with “healthy” here defined as cats whose owners have not perceived a problem.

On the other hand, fully half of the cats presented to veterinarians with an oral problem are affected by Feline Tooth Resorption (FTR).

This is one of the most painful conditions a cat can experience. Interestingly, even cats under general anesthesia sometimes flinch reflexively when such lesions are probed.

There are two types of Feline Tooth Resorption:


Type 1FTR teeth exhibit inflamed gums and periodontitis. It usually starts at the junction of the cementum and enamel, which is how the process got the name “neck lesions.” While an exact cause has not been determined, it is generally considered to have an inflammatory basis. Therefore, any condition ending in “itis” needs to be avoided. Gingivitis secondary to calculus is the process over which pet owners and their veterinarians have the most control. Daily brushing helps. Hill’s Pet Nutrition Prescription Diet t/d helps. If Type One Feline Tooth Resorption lesions have been discovered in your cat’s mouth, your veterinarian is going to recommend at least annual dental prophylaxis. More frequent cleanings may be needed.

type1 tooth resporption
Diagram courtesy of American Veterinary Dental College


Type 2 FTR teeth is believed to begin at the apex, or tip, of the tooth root. Destruction of the tooth progresses inside the tooth until the tooth appears moth-eaten on dental X-rays.

type2 tooth resorption
Diagram courtesy of American Veterinary Dental College


Interestingly, not only can lesions of Types 1 and 2 be found in the same mouth, they can occur in the same tooth! In a double-rooted tooth, each root may be affected by a different type of Feline Tooth Resorption.  Such a tooth is said to have Type 3 Tooth Resorption.

type3 tooth resorption
Diagram courtesy of American Veterinary Dental College


The treatment for both types of Feline Tooth Resorption lesions is similar: the teeth are extracted. In the case of Type-2-affected teeth, the root of the tooth is usually left behind. There are two reasons for this approach. One, the root is often obliterated by the disease process. Two, what root is left often ankyloses, or fuses, with the bone, making it nearly impossible to remove. In both cases, after removal of the tooth, the defect is sutured.


The cause of Feline Tooth Resorption, by any name, remains elusive. As stated above, Type 1 lesions appear to be associated with poor dental hygiene. It has been postulated that Type 2 lesions may occur because of excessive vitamin D in cats’ diets.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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