FORL in Cats

You are sure to have had a tooth that was extremely painful. FORL causes at least as bad agony in cats.

Symptoms: What are the Signs of FORL in Cats?

Cats are tough. Even if they feel a lot of pain, it often goes unnoticed by many cat owners. So it may well be that your cat has a painful dental condition called FORL but is hiding its toothache from you.

But how can you find out if your cat is breastfeeding? The following questions will help you with this. If you can answer yes to these, your cat may experience a toothache:

  • Does she leave cold food?
  • Does your cat stop eating?
  • Does your cat sometimes rattle its jaw (chattering)?
  • Does she salivate more while eating?
  • Does she get frightened while chewing, especially dry food?
  • Does she only use one-half of the teeth when eating (one-sided chewing)?
  • Does she keep her head crooked sometimes?
  • Does your cat have bad breath?

Diagnosis: How is FORL Detected in Cats?

Reliable detection of FORL in cats is not always easy for veterinarians. In order to be able to assess tissues that are not visible from the outside (e.g. tooth roots), FORL requires imaging procedures such as dental x-rays.

Only by looking at the X-ray can your vet identify teeth that appear healthy from the outside as painful FORL teeth.

Therapy: How Do You Treat Dental Disease?

If your cat has FORL, your veterinarian will need to remove the affected teeth. Such an extraction takes place under anesthesia and, depending on the extent, can take a few hours.

The problem: FORL teeth can usually not be extracted. So your vet has to dig out the teeth to a greater or lesser extent and remove any root remains stuck in the jaw by drilling.

Causes: What are the Triggers for FORL in Cats?

The abbreviation FORL comes from the designation “Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions” (English: Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions). It is a common degenerative dental disease in cats that causes very painful holes in the teeth.

Some also refer to the FORL as “resorptive lesions (RL)” or “neck lesions”. The second term arose because veterinarians often observe the holes in the crown-root area.

But how do the tooth holes come about? It is worth taking a closer look at the structure of the tooth:

During tooth development (odontogenesis) it happens that special endogenous cells of the connective tissue – the odontoblasts – from the preliminary stage of the dentin (dentin). Only when the body removes water from this preliminary stage and incorporates minerals does the firm dentine arise.

The antagonist of an odontoblast is the so-called odontoclast. Odontoclasts have the task of breaking down dentin as part of the tooth change. So they are dentin eaters and remove the hard tooth substance of the milk teeth.

But this is exactly where the catch lies because with FORL the body has so far activated the odontoclasts outside of the change of teeth for an unexplained cause. The result: They eat their way through the hard tissue of the tooth and form deep holes.

The FORL is an independent dental disease and differentiates itself from caries caused by bacteria.

What is the Prognosis?

FORL does not only affect individual teeth but always spreads over the entire set of teeth. So that your cat does not have to suffer from pain, you should consent to a tooth extraction recommended by the veterinarian.

Don’t worry if your cat will still find its way into everyday life. Cats get along very well even without teeth and experience has shown that they can eat soft food without any problems.

Prevention: Can FORL be Prevented in Cats?

As the cause is not yet known, unfortunately, you cannot protect your cat from FORL. However, it is important that you clean your cat’s teeth regularly and have dental plaque and tartar removed by professional teeth cleaning. Occasionally check your cat’s oral cavity for redness, which can be caused by inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) or diseases of the gums (e.g. periodontitis).

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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