Skill Group: Clinical Skills

Tooth Resorption

Dr. Stephen Horvath and Krystal Bowers


In veterinary dentistry, there are multiple pathologies found in our patients’ mouths.  In this module we are going to cover tooth resorption, which occurs commonly in domestic cats. It is also reported to occur in other small animals, including dogs, and the chinchilla (Gorrel 2015 JFMS).

Tooth resorption is one of the most common oral pathologies of the domestic cat with prevalence rates reported to range from 28.5-67% and the incidence of occurrence increases with age. Additionally, it has also been shown to occur is feral and wild cats, and other small animals including dogs and chinchillas (Gorrel 2015 JFMS). Recognizing and understanding this disease will allow you to make the most appropriate treatment and monitoring recommendations for your patients.

Stimulate Prior Learning

You’ve previously learned how normal gross and radiographic dental anatomy, how to systematically perform an oral exam, and how to take dental radiographs . Now you will use that knowledge to identify pathologic lesions of tooth resorption, determine the stage of resorption present, and to develop an appropriate treatment plan. 


Learning Outcomes

Upon completion, you will be able to recognize tooth resorption both externally and internally, determine the type of resorption occurring, and make an appropriate treatment recommendation. 

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Understand the pathophysiology of resorptive disease 
  • Identify resorptive lesions externally and internally 
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the stages and types of resorptive lesions 
  • Demonstrate ability to develop an appropriate treatment plan for various stages of tooth resorption 

Tooth Resorption

Due to its prevalence, it is important to evaluate our feline (and canine and chinchilla) patients’ mouths as part of a complete physical exam in order to recommend anesthetic dental procedures when needed with full mouth dental radiographs. To date this disease process appears to be idiopathic in nature and there is no known treatment that prevents its development and/or progression.  Thus, extraction is the gold standard treatment with the surgical approach being driven by the radiographic findings.


– Read the following resources for a complete overview of Tooth Resorption:

  1. Feline Tooth Resorption 2015 Gorrel C. Tooth resorption in cats: pathophysiology and treatment options.  J Feline Med Surg. 2015; 17(1): 37-43
  2. AVDC –
    • In the left-hand column select “Teeth Abnormalities and Related Procedures”
    • Then to the right click on “Types of Resorption Based on Radiographic Appearance”  OR just scroll down the page until you get there.
    • Bonus (not required) – The section above entitled “Tooth Resorption” explains in more detail the 5 stages that occur in tooth resorption with good pictures.

Practice Time!


Wrapping Up

In this module, you learned about dental resorptive disease. Although, this is most commonly seen in our feline patients it’s important to remember this also occurs in dogs (and even chinchillas). Being familiar with this disease will allow you to recognize and diagnose this in your patients and to make appropriate diagnostic and treatment recommendations. It is imperative to remember that dental radiographs are essential for you to fully evaluate resorptive disease in order to treat any given tooth using the appropriate dental extraction technique.    


OSU CVM Veterinary Clinical and Professional Skills Center Handbook Copyright © 2018 by Dr. Stephen Horvath and Krystal Bowers. All Rights Reserved.

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