Stomatitis is inflammation of the mouth, gums and tongue. Stomatitis is an extremely painful condition that causes inflammation, mouth sores and bleeding. This causes symptoms such as drooling, bad breath and difficulty chewing and eating. Different types of stomatitis are caused by a variety of underlying conditions and require divergent treatments.
Many cases of stomatitis are due to periodontal disease or foreign bodies that have become trapped between teeth or in the gums or tongue. St. Vincent’s stomatitis, also known as trench mouth, is caused by an infection by specific bacteria; it manifests as a brown saliva and distinct odor. Yeast stomatitis is often seen in dogs receiving broad-spectrum antibiotics. Stomatitis can also be a symptom of an underlying condition such as kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, hypoparathyroidism, leptospirosis, distemper or some autoimmune diseases.
Oral Examination and Cleaning
In cases of stomatitis caused by periodontal disease or foreign body, treatment begins with a thorough dental cleaning, typically under anesthesia. The veterinarian removes all accumulated plaque and tartar above and below the gum line. While under, the veterinarian may choose to take X-rays to look for any possible dental injury or lodged foreign body causing the infection. After the thorough cleaning, regular mouth and dental care is essential; routine care often includes administering a toothpaste containing and anti-plaque germicide.
Removal of damaged is necessary to reduce infection. In severe or chronic cases of stomatitis, removal of numerous back teeth reduces the chance of contact between oral tissue and bacteria, reducing the symptoms. In extreme cases, removal of all teeth may be the only option.
To help reduce inflammation, the veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications. When the cause is bacterial or when secondary bacterial infections develop, antibiotics are necessary. In cases of yeast stomatitis, the veterinarian will prescribe an antifungal medication for topical administration. In cases of chronic ulcerative paradental stomatitis, or CUPS, an autoimmune response to plaque is believed to be the cause. In this case, immunosuppressive drugs, such as corticosteroids, help to suppress the immune system and reduce symptoms and infection.
Often, due to lack of teeth, a dog may need to change over to a soft diet. In cases whereby some teeth are still intact, changes to special dental dog foods or dental treats serve to help reduce plaque buildup.