Case File

FORLs - a Case Story

by Louise Harrison - BVetMet (Hons) PGCertVPS CertAVP  MRCVS

A ten-year-old female tortoiseshell cat was brought in by her owner because she seemed uncomfortable in her mouth and was licking her lips excessively. When examined, one of her upper molars looked sore, therefore dental treatment was recommended.

On the day, she had her bloods tested to make sure her organs including her liver and kidneys were functioning fully before the anaesthetic. After receiving the all-clear, she had a general anaesthetic, to ensure she wouldn’t feel anything.

Once she was fully asleep, we used a dental probe to examine the sore tooth and found a large ‘feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion’ (FORL). These lesions are common in cats and occur when certain cells within the tooth (odontoclasts) are activated and start to break down the tooth, leading to a cavity-like hole.

The cause is not known, but some cats are more prone to them than others; in fact, this patient had already had several teeth with FORLs in the past!



FORLs are painful and the best way to treat them is to remove the affected tooth. We took x-rays of her teeth to check the roots and plan the extraction. The tooth was then removed using a drill and dissolvable stitches were placed to help the gums heal. Before she knew it, the patient was awake and eating like nothing had happened. The gums healed within the following 7 days, and she is now doing very well!

Dental problems cause pain but there aren’t always symptoms – that’s why it’s important to have regular dental checks and discuss dental care with your vet.