My cat’s upper canine teeth are growing!

Teeth in dogs and cats only “grow” during the eruption, which is generally completed by the 6 months of age of a dog or a cat. Any later outward movement of the tooth/teeth is abnormal and needs to be addressed with your vet.

Alveolar bone (bone that supports the tooth) expansion is the most common reason for the observed “growing” of the teeth in cats. It can affect especially maxillary canine teeth, but can affect other teeth as well (e.g., mandibular canine teeth, maxillary premolar teeth, mandibular molar tooth).

Clinically, buccal expansion of alveolar bone, extrusion of the tooth, tooth mobility or tooth loss, swelling and erythema of soft tissues and gingivomucosal ulcerations can be seen. This condition is associated with periodontitis and also tooth resorption, but the causal relationship between the diseases remains unclear.

Dental radiographs commonly reveal rarefying osseous proliferation of alveolar bone, radiologic features associated with periodontitis and external inflammatory resorption (type 1 tooth resorption).

Histopathology is consistent with bone remodelling and proliferation associated with inflammation (intense inflammatory infiltrate rich in plasma cells). It is very important to biopsy any unusual swelling around the teeth (e.g., single mobile tooth in an otherwise healthy oral cavity) and this decision should be based on clinical appearance of the lesion(s).

Teeth affected with alveolar bone expansion are usually mobile and would be easily removed. However, the treatment requires surgical extraction of the tooth/teeth involved and debridement of abnormal tissues to ensure rapid and uncomplicated healing.

If you have noted any problems with your animal, please consult your veterinarian.