Beyond Periodontal Disease: 7 Reasons Your Pet’s Health Demands a Complete Oral Exam

4. Stomatitis. This extremely painful condition, in which the tissues lining the oral cavity become inflamed, tends to be more common in cats. While there are many potential causes, it can occur when gingivitis yields to painful erosion and ulceration, most often around the gums of the least accessible molars. It, too, can be difficult to identify, especially in its earliest stages. Later on, however, this condition becomes so very painful that afflicted pets will often resist any kind of oral examination, which is why anesthesia is so necessary.

5. Dental abscesses. When periodontally diseased teeth become unmoored from their bony attachments, bacteria may colonize the roots of affected teeth. Dental abscessation inevitably results. In many cases this painful condition can go unnoticed for months or even years.

Lucky pets will lose these teeth. Others may see the infection lead to facial swelling and drainage through the side of their faces (typically just under their eye sockets). But most will go unnoticed and untreated without oral evaluation, which typically requires dental X-rays.

6. Oronasal fistulas. These lesions occur most often when the long upper canine teeth become abscessed and the infection bores an opening into the nearby tissues of the nasal cavity. In some cases, nasal discharge and bleeding may result. In others, however, few signs will accompany this often-silent condition.

7. Cancers. Oral cancers can be impressively aggressive, it’s true. However, it’s also true that they start off small. And a great many of these, terrifically aggressive though they might be, are most amenable to treatment when they’re at their earliest stages. Thorough oral evaluations and early identification are crucial to successful treatment.

Aren’t pets amazing? All this pain, infection and discomfort with nary a whine, howl or missed meal. And that’s the point, now, isn’t it? Sometimes serious problems need a serious examination — especially when they live in a location so poorly amenable to evaluation.

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