Peach's Day at the Dentist

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Cats are mysterious creatures, and for this reason, we need to pay close attention to any clues that might show they aren't feeling their best.  After moving to Detroit, I found The Cat Practice.  Unlike most veterinary clinics, they only see feline patients and prefer to see them every six months compared to the normal once-a-year check-up.  I didn't realize the importance of this until I slipped up on Peach's first six-month check-up late last year.  It was a typical cold Michigan winter, and I put off making an appointment.  When I finally made the appointment, I found out she had a tooth that was causing her pain and most likely had been for many months.

Like most people that care for their animals, I try to notice when one of them is uncomfortable.  During this time, we had adopted Watson, and Peach was not particularly fond of the new kitten.  I figured it was a normal reaction as Peach is seven and was an 'only kid' for quite awhile.  Watson was full of normal kitten antics, jumping on Peach and chasing her around the house.  She wasn't aggressive, but after a short period of time, she did not want to participate in his kitten antics so she would hiss or run away.  Peach has always been very playful so I found it odd that she would run away from Watson, but I blamed it on age and moved on.  

The pain Peach was experiencing was due to feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs), also known as resorptive lesions.  These lesions are very common in cats, however, if left untreated, the affected tooth can cause extreme pain.  It is a progressive disease that starts by destroying a tooth's root's surface layers and advances to the dentin, which is the hard layer below the enamel.  It eventually destroys the enamel of the tooth, sometimes completely absorbing what is left of the tooth.  The disease can easily be misdiagnosed as a cavity because holes and cracks can form on the tooth, however, good dental hygiene will not prevent resorptive lesions.  Although brushing a cat's teeth may not prevent the disease, it can provide the opportunity for earlier detection.  If I had been brushing Peach's teeth, I may have noticed the red lesion surrounding her tooth.  This is just one reason why brushing your pet's teeth is so important.       

Peach had the tooth removed, and we were told that the lateral tooth was showing signs of the disease.  Peach was back in surgery two weeks ago getting that tooth removed.  It was a quick surgery that went well.  Within a day, Peach was a different cat.  Since then, she has been eating more, and now she plays with the Watson all the time.  She cuddles more, and is overall a happier cat.  I think both teeth were causing her pain for a long time, but as with most cats, Peach didn't make it obvious that she wasn't feeling up to par.

Resorptive lesions sometimes have symptoms such as drooling, bad breath, difficulty eating, and vomiting of unchewed food.  Behavioral symptoms can show as well just as they did in Peach's case.  These are the subtle clues that are harder to pick out because they can progress so slowly.  Try to think back on how your animal behaved in the past and if there have been behavioral, emotional, or physical changes.  The easiest way to notice a change is to spend time with your furry friend, and if you notice even small changes, insist that your veterinarian check-up on your pet's health.  Many times, it just takes a vet looking at your pet to figure out what might be going on.  Whatever the circumstance, remember that you know your pet better than anyone.

Allons-y! 

Find more info on feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs) by visiting IVIS and HealthyPets


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