Clarifying canine tooth resorption

Clarifying canine tooth resorption

Dec 01, 2010

Check out that smile: This study reports that tooth resorption occurs more commonly in dogs than you might think. (Kane Skennar/Getty Images)
When veterinarians think about tooth resorption, the image is generally of a feline patient. This is not surprising, since resorptive lesions represent the most common dental condition in cats. But this dental disease process is prevalent in people and thought to be a significant concern in canine veterinary patients as well. Tooth resorption can be progressive and is often associated with pain and tooth loss. The American Veterinary Dental College has adopted a five-stage classification system for tooth resorption. However, it does not address possible causes or radiographic patterns.

Humans and dogs share common risk factors associated with tooth resorption such as periodontal and endodontal inflammation. In a study published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research, researchers at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine used the most popular human radiographic classification system to evaluate 224 dogs admitted to the teaching hospital for periodontal treatment or other dental procedures. Full-mouth radiographs were examined for evidence of tooth resorption and analyzed along with signalment and concurrent dental conditions.

The findings indicate that tooth resorption is, in fact, prevalent in the canine population and that the human classification system evaluated is applicable to dogs. Tooth resorption was detected in 53.6 percent of the patients—the most common type of lesions being external replacement resorption and external inflammatory resorption. Frequency of individual tooth involvement was also evaluated, with moderately maxillary teeth being more commonly affected. Resorption frequency was also found to be higher with advancing age and in large-breed dogs. An unexpected connection was seen between resorptive lesions and neutered males as compared with intact male dogs.

This research may help the veterinary community provide more complete dental diagnoses and improve treatment recommendations. For a complete description of this classification system and more about the diagnosis of canine tooth resorption, see the full report as well as a companion study examining the American Veterinary Dental College's classification method for determining the extent of tooth resorption in dogs also published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research. Find the links to these studies at

Source: Peralta S, Verstraete FJM, Kass PH. Radiographic evaluation of the types of tooth resorption in dogs. Am J Vet Res 2010;71(7):784-793.

Companion study: Peralta S, Verstraete FJM, Kass PH. Radiographic evaluation of the classification of the extent of tooth resorption in dogs. Am J Vet Res 2010;71(7):794-798.

Dr. Blake is a freelance technical editor and writer in Eudora, Kan.