Many diseases other than periodontal disease can affect the oral cavity, and a board certified dentist is trained to identify and treat these. A good number of these diseases lead to oral inflammation, but there are also oral tumors, auto-immune diseases, and many others that can have effects that are seen in the mouth. In addition to the teeth, there are muscles, nerves, soft tissues, and glands that are present in and around the oral cavity, and they can all be affected by disease. Many systemic diseases and their treatments can also manifest in the mouth. Diabetes, renal failure, and endocrine diseases can all have adverse effects. Some cardiac medications can lead to overgrowth of the gum tissue.
There are several muscles that are used during normal chewing activities. Unfortunately, they can also be affected by disease, which will cause signs that mimic dental pathology and cause signs of oral discomfort. Many times, it can become severe enough to limit an animal’s ability to open his or her mouth. Diagnosis is made with blood samples and/or muscle biopsy, and treatments are generally very effective at resolving the issues, though long term muscle scarring can result if therapy isn’t started in a timely manner.
Inflammation inside the oral cavity is called stomatitis, and it is a very painful disease! The causes are varied, usually with multiple factors being involved, but the end result is red, inflamed oral tissues and gums. Antibiotics and steroids are not an effective long-term treatment for this condition, and definitive treatment should be started as soon as the condition is recognized.
The temporomandibular joint is the area where the upper and lower jaws connect to each other. Just as in humans, dogs and cats can suffer from painful conditions of this joint. Thorough palpation under anesthesia, along with advanced imaging, such as CT scan, are necessary to diagnose pathology in this area. Though you may not notice anything, some animals will show signs of discomfort when chewing, or simply stop taking treats or playing with toys when affected here.
Malocclusion Treatment Planning
The mouth should be both functional and comfortable! When the teeth don’t line up properly, both of these things can be affected, as well as the temporomandibular joint. Many times, malocclusions are noticed with the baby teeth, and should be evaluated in order to decide if/when intervention is necessary to ensure a comfortable occlusion with no long term issues. Certain breeds are prone to malocclusions, and some are even considered normal for a breed, but they still come with certain problems that can cause or accelerate periodontal disease.