We love what we do
                                 and it shows!

(425) 557-0752

Beaver Lake Animal Hospital
26325 SE 39th Street
Issaquah, WA 98029

Beaver Lake Animal Hospital

26325 SE 39th Street
Issaquah, WA 98029



Dental Disorders and Diseases

Dental Disorders and Diseases


Dental Neck Lesions in Cats

(Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions)

                Feline dental neck lesions are a dental disorder in which portions of the teeth dissolve or are resorbed at the gum line. It is caused by inflammation of the lining (periodontium) of the socket that surrounds and houses the root of the tooth. It may be severe enough to destroy the exposed portion (crown) of the tooth, leaving only the tooth roots. In such cases, the sensitive internal structures of the tooth remain exposed, and the cat experiences considerable pain and discomfort.

                Signs can include refusal to eat, loss of weight, chattering of the teeth, drooling, and depression. It has been estimated that 20% to 60% of all cats are affected, with 2 to 5 teeth involved in individual cats. It is possible for cats to experience this disorder without the gums showing any outward signs. Generally, however, the gum line is reddened, swollen, and tender. The premolars and molars are most often affected, followed by the canines (fangs) and smaller front teeth (incisors).

                Removing tartar accumulations by regular dental hygiene at home and periodic, professional dental cleaning plays a very important role in preventing the disease.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Radiographs (x-rays) are generally required to determine the extent of damage to the teeth. If blood tests have not been recently performed, they may be required, especially for individuals over 8 years of age. A cat of any age may require blood studies to assess general health before undergoing general anesthesia or to make certain other underlying disorders do not exist.

2. Treatment includes dental restoration procedures or extraction of the diseased teeth. The severity of the condition, the age and general health of the animal, availability of specialized treatment, and economic considerations dictate the method of treatment.

3. Tooth extraction is the most common treatment, but your veterinarian will discuss the different choices with you.

4. Other recommendations/comments:                                                                                                           

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur

Your pet refuses to eat.

Your pet chews with difficulty and seems to be in pain.

You are unable to administer the medication as prescribed.


Enamel Hypoplasia

                Enamel hypoplasia refers to incomplete development of the enamel of the tooth. The enamel of permanent teeth is formed during your pet's first 5 months of life. Diseases such as distemper or other disorders that are accompanied by high fever could affect normal tooth enamel production. In addition to high fever, other damaging disorders, such as serious worm infection or poor diet, may have the same effect.

                A tooth with enamel hypoplasia appears pitted, grooved, and discolored. It is weaker than a normal tooth and is more easily broken or more readily worn down from chewing hard objects.



                Epulides are non-cancerous (benign) tumors or masses that develop in the mouth of some pets. They arise from the gums (gingiva) and may appear as one or more smooth reddish-pink or dark masses of various sizes along the gum line of the teeth. It is not certain why they form, but long-term gum irritation by tartar accumulation is often associated with their formation. Some breeds of dogs, such as the Boxer, develop them more than others, which suggests a genetic influence.

                An epulis may take one of three forms. The most common is the reddish-pink smooth fibromatous epulis. A second type, ossifying (bone formation) epulis, is more serious. It is of a bony nature and adheres tightly to the gum. It is more difficult to remove. The third type is an acanthomatous epulis. Although it is a non-cancerous growth, it may infiltrate the surrounding tissue like a cancerous growth, which complicates removal. The masses may appear similar to certain types of cancerous tumors, and a biopsy may be recommended by your veterinarian.

                Regular dental hygiene becomes even more important in pets that develop epulides. The masses often grow to cover part or all of the crown of the tooth or teeth. They make eating painful and increase gum irritation, which, in turn, may lead to gum infection and increased formation of epulides.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Treatment includes surgical removal under general anesthesia.

2. Epulides may but do not always return after surgical removal. Their removal is beneficial to the patient, and tartar may be removed during the same procedure in many instances. If dental tartar and accompanying gum infection are very severe, dental cleaning and premedication may be necessary and should be done before epulides removal.

3. It may be necessary to change your pet's diet for a few days after surgery to reduce additional irritation to the gums.

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur

You are unable to administer the prescribed medication.

Your pet refuses to eat and/or appears uncomfortable.


Gingival Hyperplasia

(Gum Overgrowth)

                Gingival hyperplasia refers to an increase in the amount of gum tissue in your pet's mouth, causing the gums to appear greatly thickened. Usually the condition occurs in dogs over 5 years of age, but younger dogs can be affected. The extent of the disorder may be limited to a small area or may involve the gums throughout the mouth. This is not considered a tumor or cancer, but occasionally a biopsy may be suggested as a precaution in some cases.

                Gingival hyperplasia is the result of long-standing inflammation with or without the presence of tartar accumulation. There may not be signs of noticeable gingival inflammation present, and the thickened gum may be a normal healthy reddish-pink color instead of the intense reddened color of inflammation.

                This disorder is noted in large breeds of dogs, such as the Collie, German Shepherd, and others, more often than in smaller breeds. This suggests that the gingival hyperplasia is the result of some inherited tendency.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Some cases of gingival hyperplasia may not require treatment, particularly if there is no discomfort and other associated conditions, such as tartar accumulation.

2. Extended or over-hanging gum tissue may hide other dental disorders or may serve as a collecting area for bacteria, food, and other debris. In these instances, surgical removal of the excessive gum tissue would be beneficial to your pet. A general anesthetic is required.

3. Older pets or those with other health problems may require blood tests to determine the risks of general anesthesia. These tests will help increase safety of the surgery by exposing any hidden, abnormal conditions your pet may have.

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur

Your pet has difficulty chewing or paws at its mouth.

Your pet's gums repeatedly bleed or its general health appears to worsen.



                Gingivitis refers to inflammation of the gums. The causes may include bacterial and viral infections and foreign material, such as hair, food, and plant material as well as irritating substances. The most common cause is accumulation of dental plaque. Plaque consists of oral bacteria and debris. Plaque eventually darkens with additional food substances and from the deposition of minerals from saliva, forming the hard substance known as dental tartar or calculus. The surface of tartar can be roughened, which makes it easier for additional tartar to adhere to the tooth. Blood, serum, and cellular debris from irritated gum tissue also darkens the tartar. The darker the tartar, generally the longer it has been present.

                Gingivitis is a progressive disease, and the early stages (slight reddening of the gum margin) are difficult to see. As the disease progresses, inflammation intensifies, soreness increases, gums may bleed easily, ulcers may develop, and the breath worsens. Ulcers may also appear on the gums, and untreated gingivitis leads to more serious dental diseases and eventual loss of teeth.

                The normal groove around the base of the teeth, called the sulcus, is up to 3 mm deep, and it provides an excellent pocket for plaque to collect. Bacteria in the plaque cause soreness, swelling, and reddening of the gum line. This allows the bacteria to invade the delicate structures that house the tooth's root(s). After this occurs, a more damaging and often permanent disease (periodontitis) begins.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Treatment begins with a thorough teeth cleaning. Antibiotics may be required before and/or after  treatment. A general anesthetic is required.

2. Daily teeth cleaning with a soft-bristled nylon brush aimed at the base of the tooth and a special animal dental preparation is still the best preventive measure.

 Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur

Your are unable to administer the prescribed medications.

Your pet's bad breath returns or persists, the gums bleed, or your pet refuses to eat.



                Glossitis is an inflammation of the tongue. It may be caused by injury, chemical irritation, chewing on foreign objects, or infections of the mouth, gums, or teeth. Such diseases as distemper or kidney infections can also cause glossitis.

                Your pet may be reluctant or unable to close its mouth and may eat or drink with difficulty. Drooling is usually evident and often the breath has an unpleasant odor.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Medication: Give all medications as directed.

2. Diet: Your pet may have trouble lapping liquids or eating. If your pet has difficulty eating or drinking, please notify the doctor.

                Feed the normal diet.

                A special diet is necessary. Feed as follows:                                                                               

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur

Your pet refuses to eat or drink.

Your pet's breath becomes foul smelling.

Your pet bleeds or has an unusual discharge from the mouth.

Your pet's condition seems to worsen.



                Malocclusion occurs when the upper and lower teeth do not meet (occlude) in a normal manner as the mouth is closed. Certain flat-nosed dog breeds such as Bulldogs and Boxers and such cats as Persians and Himalayans normally exhibit malocclusion. The breed standard calls for that type of appearance, and therefore it is considered normal for that particular breed. Regardless of the breed standard, it is still malocclusion and not anatomically correct.

                Malocclusion can create various health problems, one of which is tartar accumulation because the normal scissor action during chewing is lacking. Tartar accumulation may lead to more serious gum and tooth disorders that can affect your pet's general health.

                Normal occlusion: In the dog, the lower fangs (canine teeth) should fit between the upper third incisor and fangs when the mouth is closed. Also the upper fourth premolars (carnassial teeth) should overlap the lower first molars. In the cat, the fangs (canine teeth) fit together as in the dog and the last two upper premolars should fit snugly on the last premolar and the first molar of the lower jaw.

Causes of Malocclusion

1. Anterior crossbite (common): One or more upper incisors fall behind the lower incisors.

2. Overshot jaw (mandibular brachygnathism): The lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw.

3. Undershot jaw (maxillary brachygnathism): The upper jaw is shorter than the lower jaw.

4. Wry mouth: The mouth appears crooked or out of line. The upper, lower, left, and right quarters of the mouth grow independently of each other. Normally they grow evenly, but sometimes they do not. This results in an uneven mouth. It may be almost unnoticed or may be very severe.

5. Fewer teeth than normal (oligodontia): At 12 to 16 weeks of age a pet normally has all of its permanent teeth.

6. Extra teeth (polyodontia): The extra teeth may be extracted if they become a problem.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Regular teeth cleaning or brushing is an important factor in preventing serious gum disease and tooth loss.

2. Orthodontic techniques are used to correct some forms of malocclusion.


Periodontal Disease

                The periodontium is composed of all of the tissues that cradle a tooth. These include the gum and the root of the tooth and its surrounding tissue, including the bony socket in which the tooth rests.

                Periodontal disease refers to any disease of the periodontium, including inflammation (periodontitis). The disease destroys the structures that anchor the teeth in their normal position and is the most common disease of the mouth in dogs and cats. It may be found in 90% to 95% of animals over 2 years of age.

                The gum line forms the first line of defense against periodontal disease. dental plaque is a soft film containing salivary ingredients, bacteria, serum from inflamed gums, blood, and discarded body cells. If allowed to remain on the tooth long enough, even 1 to 2 days, it mineralizes into calculus or tartar, a more damaging, crust-like shell that encases the tooth.

                If accumulation of plaque and calculus is allowed to go unchecked, bacteria penetrate the protective barrier of the normal gum line, deep pockets begin to form around the neck of the tooth, the gums become more inflamed and bleed easily, and the bone around the tooth structure is permanently damaged. The tooth loosens and may eventually be lost.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Treatment of periodontal disease includes removing tartar from the surface of the teeth and under the gum line. This procedure requires a general anesthetic.

2. Surgical trimming (gingivectomy) of excess gum tissue may be required to eliminate the pockets that may form around the base of the teeth at the gum line. Deepening gum pockets indicate worsening of the periodontal disease.

3. Oral hygiene by regular brushing with special animal toothpaste helps reduce or eliminate tartar


Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur

Brownish to black tartar collects on your pet's teeth.

Your pet's gums become inflamed and bleed easily.




                Pharyngitis (inflamed throat) may be caused by infections in the throat or elsewhere in the body, such as the ears, nose, tonsils, or anal sacs. Infectious diseases, such as distemper, may also cause pharyngitis. Foreign bodies (splinters, bones) and chemical substances may also be involved. Your pet may refuse to eat and may cough or vomit. Laboratory tests may be required for effective treatment.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Remove all chew toys until your pet has recovered.

2. Activity: Restrict exercise and excitement until your pet has recovered. Prevent barking as much as possible.

3. Medication: Give all medications as directed. Call the doctor if you are unable to give the medication.

 Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur

You cannot administer the medication as directed.

Your pet continues to vomit or cough.

Your pet gags or coughs up bloody mucus.


Retained Deciduous Teeth

                The deciduous (baby or temporary) teeth are smaller than the permanent teeth. As the animal grows and the jaw becomes larger, the baby teeth are shed. Normally, the baby tooth is lost before the permanent tooth appears. Occasionally, the root of a baby tooth is not resorbed and the tooth remains "anchored" within the tooth socket.

                Retention of baby teeth favors tartar accumulation, which may lead to more serious gum disease. Also it may cause an abnormal bite (malocclusion). For this reason, retained baby teeth should be extracted as early as possible.

The Dog

                The deciduous (baby or temporary) teeth of dogs erupt (appear) as early as 2 weeks of age, and all 28 temporary teeth should be visible by 8 weeks of age. After 8 weeks of age, shedding of the temporary teeth begins and continues until around 6 months of age. All adult or permanent teeth should be in full view by 8 months of age.

The Cat

                The deciduous teeth of cats erupt as early as 2 weeks of age, and all 26 temporary teeth should be visible by 7 weeks of age. By 7 months of age, all 30 permanent teeth should be in full view.


Salivary Cyst

                Saliva from the salivary glands travels through ducts (passageways) to the mouth. Occasionally a duct ruptures, and the saliva escapes into the surrounding tissues. With the passage of time, a soft, saliva-filled cyst (sac) slowly develops in the neck region, under the lower jaw or under the tongue.

                Surgical removal of the salivary gland filling the cyst is the best treatment. In some cases, the cyst is also removed, while in other cases it is merely drained. Recurrence of the cyst is possible, and sometimes additional surgery is necessary.

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur

You are unable to administer any prescribed treatment.

Your pet has trouble eating or swallowing.

Your pet scratches or damages the incision.

There is a change in your pet's general health.



                Stomatitis is an inflammation of the tissues lining the mouth. Among the many causes are injuries, infections, allergy, immunologic disease, eating irritating substances, and kidney disease. Because there are many possible causes, various laboratory tests and/or radiographs (x-rays) may be needed to find the underlying abnormality. Dental disease often accompanies stomatitis, and dental treatment may be a recommended part of therapy for stomatitis.

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur

Your pet's problem recurs after apparent recovery.

Your pet is reluctant to eat or eats with difficulty.

Your pet's gums bleed.


Stomatitis in Cats

(Plasmacytic-Lymphocytic Gingivitis)

                Stomatitis in cats, also known as plasmacytic-lymphocytic gingivitis, is an inflammation of the mouth. Signs can vary because one portion of the mouth may be more intensely inflamed than another. The disease produces a very sore mouth, which makes eating difficult.

                The exact cause is not known, but several diseases can cause oral or mouth inflammations of this severity. Less than 2% of all cats are affected by this condition. Suspected causes include infections with various bacteria, the feline leukemia virus, feline calicivirus, and the feline immunodeficiency virus. Hypersensitivity (allergic reaction) to various agents has also been suggested, based on the types of antibodies found in diseased cats.

                a physical examination and laboratory tests are used to discover the cause of stomatitis. Ruling out the above diseases is an important part of the diagnostic plan.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Periodic laboratory tests may be required to monitor your pet's progress during and possibly after treatment.

2. Diet: Your cat's diet may need to be adjusted. Also a thorough, initial dental cleaning is often a major requirement to treat this condition. Dental calculus and plaque contain high percentages of bacteria and teeth cleaning can be very beneficial.

3. Medication: Antibiotic therapy and anti-inflammatory medications are often an essential part of the treatment plan.

4. It is common that one treatment does not resolve the problem; in fact, control, rather than total cure may be the final outcome.

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur

Your pet refuses to eat or paws at its mouth.

You cannot administer the medication as prescribed.



                The tonsils are a pair of small, elongated masses of tissue located in the back of the throat. Their function is to destroy microorganisms entering the nose and throat. Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils.

                Tonsillitis usually occurs in young pets and may recur several times during the early years of life. With maturity, animals usually develop resistance to disease. Medical treatment usually cures tonsillitis; however, the tonsils may need to be removed if infection recurs.

                Pets with tonsillitis may have fever, eat poorly, swallow with difficulty, and retch up white, frothy mucus.

  • Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur
  • Your pet does not improve after a few days' treatment.
  • Your pet vomits or has diarrhea.
  • Your pet is reluctant to eat.
  • Your pet has a heavy discharge from the eyes or nose.
  • Your pet is listless or depressed.
  • Your pet has a persistent cough.