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Tooth Enamel Malformation in Cats

Enamel Hypoplasia/Hypocalcification in Cats

When tooth enamel -- the outer coating of the tooth -- is allowed to develop normally it has a smooth and white appearance. Abnormal environmental or physical conditions can interfere with the development of tooth enamel, causing it to take on a discolored, pitted or otherwise unusual appearance.

Bodily influences, like a fever over an extended period of time, may cause pitting and discolored enamel surfaces. Local influences, like injury (even from baby tooth extraction) over a short period of time can cause specific patterns or bands to appear on the developing teeth. These types of traumas can result in less than normal deposits of enamel, medically termed hypocalcification. The lack of sufficient enamel may cause the teeth to be more sensitive, with exposed dentin (which is normally hidden underneath the enamel), and occasionally fractures of severely compromised teeth. The teeth usually remain fully functional.

Symptoms and Types

  • Irregular, pitted enamel tooth surface with discoloration of diseased enamel and potential exposure of underlying dentin (light brown appearance)
  • Early or rapid accumulation of plaque and calculus on roughened tooth surface
  • Possible gingivitis and/or accelerated periodontal/gum disease

Causes

  • Injury during enamel formation on the teeth
  • Fever, trauma (e.g., accidents, excessive force used during deciduous/baby tooth extraction)

Diagnosis

Discolored teeth may be found by your veterinarian during a routine physical exam, which normally includes a complete oral exam. Intraoral radiographs (X-rays) can then be taken by your veterinarian to determine if the roots of the teeth are still alive.

 
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