Feline Odontoclastic Resorption (FORL)

Feline tooth resorption is a very common dental problem in cats. Over half of the cat population over 5 years of age will have at least one tooth affected. Abyssinian, Siamese and Persian cats seem to be having more problems than other breeds but any breed, including humble domestic short haired, can be affected.

What is causing it?

There is still some uncertainty about the cause but issues with the calcium metabolism or an improper ratio between calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are suspected.  Also, gum disease, tartar and gingivitis seem to be contributing.

How do I know that my cat is having FORL?

The symptoms of FORL can be

  1. Pain, drooling, lack of appetite, preference for wet food
  2. The teeth may have holes in them at the base of the crown(the portion of the tooth that sticks out of the gum)
  3. Bleeding from gums, the tooth appears “ shorter” than the counterparts on the opposite side
  4. Exam under general anesthetic by a vet and dental X rays are the best way to assess the real extent of the damage since due to pain it is often impossible to do it properly in a consult.

How is FORL treated?

Once it occurs this condition will progress and the only way of treating it is a tooth extraction. This will keep your cat pain free and enable it to have a good and happy life. The teeth affected by FORL are often hard to extract since they frequently shatter and the roots remain firmly embedded in the bone. These dentals can be very time consuming and costly.

Is prevention possible?

Unfortunately, there are very few things the owner can do to control this condition because it is still poorly understood. However there are some things that could help:

  • Feed quality balanced food with a good Calcium : Magnesium : Phosphorus ratio. Most of the leading companies such as Eukanuba include top ingredients and some protective agents to help with dental health (similar to human tooth pastes)
  • Tartar and gum disease MUST BE MINIMISED as much as possible. Some ways of doing this are:
  • Feed more dry food; use diets with bigger and harder biscuits such as Eukanuba and Hills t/d. These diets often help remove plaque and sometimes thin layers of tartar.
  • Brushing the teeth works well but is, as some owners probably know, not always easy to do. Some cats hate it and a cat’s mouth is small with hard to reach corners.
  • Raw Turkey necks are a viable alternative for some cats if they like it. The bone is abrasive enough and it will not splinter. “Greenes” for cats can help also. 
  • Food and water supplements such as Aquadent and a newer one called Plaque off. Aquadent is a water additive that works like Listerine for humans reducing the population of bacteria in the mouth. Plaque off is a food supplement that makes saliva more acid, reduces the plaque and tartar accumulation and also the production of crystals in saliva.  
  • Annual dental care (scaling and polishing) can be the only choice for some pets because they do not respond to any of the abovementioned products. It is a very effective method but also more expensive. Scaling and polishing removes the plaque and tartar immediately and keeps your pet’s mouth healthy.

We do understand it can be hard and daunting for the owners to examine the cat’s mouth but we are happy to do that for you for free, so let someone else get bitten and "enjoy the show"!!

July, August and September are dental months at Vets4Pets and dental checks are free. Should your pet need a dental you will receive a discount on scaling and polish and if extractions are needed, there is some discount for this too. All furry patients are going home with a dental pack and samples of different diets and treats to keep your cat’s teeth healthy and shiny.