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To Pull or Not To Pull

Paper Trained
Scott Sandeman, D.V.M.
Q)   We had our 10 year old calico Samantha examined and vaccinated last week.  At her appointment, her doctor said she had a cavity, the cavity was painful and the tooth will likely need to be removed.  We are OK with her having her teeth cleaned but we certainly don’t want any teeth pulled since she doesn’t act like she is in pain and in fact, has gained a pound since last year.  Is there something we can do to prevent it from becoming painful?
A)  Cavities in our feline friends are one of the more common and frustrating problems we encounter.  This syndrome of tooth destruction happens far too frequently, has many theories and multiple treatments.
What we do know is that feline odontoclastic resorption lesions (FORL), cervical line lesions or neck lesions all refer to the same type of tooth decay in some part of the tooth.  No one is exactly sure what causes them but medical treatments are not very effective and diet, at least foods with sugar, are not responsible for their development like children.   In most cases, removal of the entire tooth or at least the crown of the tooth is necessary to solve the problem.
Pain is an important component of this disease but cats can be very adept at concealing it-in fact, a majority of cats won’t demonstrate pain by failing to eat or drooling or withdrawing from their family.    Your veterinarian however, can often probe the affected area under anesthesia and demonstrate teeth chattering or other signs that the tooth is causing pain.
Under anesthesia and with dental radiographs, your veterinarian may in fact find other teeth that are affected and need some type of therapy.  Your friend will benefit from any extraction and should have less pain even if not noticeable by you.  Good luck!

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