Identifying early osteoclastic resorptive lesions in feline teeth: a model for understanding the origin of multiple idiopathic root resorption

J Periodontal Res. 2009 Apr;44(2):248-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0765.2008.01123.x. Epub 2008 Oct 7.


Background and objective: Domestic cats commonly suffer from external osteoclastic tooth resorption, a disease with many similarities to human multiple idiopathic root resorption. In both diseases, it is unclear whether anatomical features of the tooth surface are associated with a predisposition for resorptive lesions. The aim of the present study was to investigate the origin and progression of early feline osteoclastic resorptive lesions in teeth exhibiting no clinical signs of disease.

Material and methods: The entire surfaces of 138 teeth from 13 adult cats were analysed using back-scattered electron microscopy. The distribution of lesions was assessed by tooth type, location and between individuals.

Results: Seventy-three (53%) teeth showed at least one resorptive lesion. Eleven (85%) cats had lesions, and there was a significant association between increasing age and incidence of resorptive lesions. The highest frequency occurred in mandibular molars (82%). On average, there were 3.5 lesions per tooth. Fifty-two (38%) teeth featured resorptive lesions at the cemento-enamel junction. Twenty-three per cent of teeth with resorptive lesions showed evidence of repair of lesions that was limited to the root surface. There was no evidence of repair of resorptive lesions at the cemento-enamel junction.

Conclusion: Resorption is prevalent without evidence of clinical disease, and occurred at younger ages than previously reported. It can initiate anywhere on the root surface, but lack of repair of lesions at the cemento-enamel junction indicates that mechanisms of replacement are absent or compromised in this region. Whereas resorption of the root may undergo repair, resorption at the cervix may progress to clinically evident lesions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Dental Cementum / pathology
  • Dentin / pathology
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Osteoclasts / physiology
  • Regeneration
  • Root Resorption / pathology*
  • Tooth Cervix / pathology*
  • Tooth Root / pathology*