At Mother Lode Veterinary Hospital, we routinely perform all types of oral surgery including tooth extraction surgeries. (See section on Tooth Extraction).
Pets can develop both benign and malignant oral tumors. One example of a benign oral mass is an epulis, of which there are several types. The curative treatment involves the removal of the tumor, periodontal ligament, and tooth. Acanthomatous epulis (gum tumors), although considered benign, can be locally aggressive and require wider excision. They may also require radiation treatment in addition to surgery. Radiation treatment is available at UC Davis Veterinary Hospital and several other referral hospitals in the Sacramento area.
Melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and fibrosarcoma are the most commonly seen malignant oral cancers in dogs. Squamous cell carcinoma and fibrosarcoma are the most commonly seen in cats.
To enable clients to make well-informed decisions, pets with malignant tumors should have chest x-rays, needle aspirates or biopsies of the submandibular lymphocenters, evaluation of tumor size, and in some cases abdominal ultrasound prior to surgery. The best advanced diagnostic imaging tool to determine whether the cancer has metastacized is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This procedure can be costly and requires referral to a facility with this technology.
Some patients require aggressive surgical procedures involving removal of part or all of the mandible (Mandibulectomy), or maxilla bone (usually on one side). In some partial mandibulectomies, the mandible can be repaired with bone grafts or bone replacement techniques to restore function and prevent mandibular drift (the lower jaw drifts off to one side). We routinely repair maxillary and mandibular fractures, Symphyseal separations, palatal separations, tempo-mandibular joint instability, subluxation, and fractures, usually caused by trauma. Some fractures can easily be repaired with wire or pins and an external bar to hold them in place. More complicated fractures may require plates and screws.
Gingival hyperplasia is when excess gum tissue grows up the crown of the tooth creating deeper than normal periodontal pockets and speeding up periodontal disease. Certain breeds like the boxer have a genetic predisposition to gingival hyperplasia and drugs like cyclosporine and ace inhibitors can even cause this disease. Gingival hyperplasia can progress to a degree that the entire crown of the tooth is covered by gum tissue. Gingivectomies or gingivoplasty are performed to correct this condition, using a scalpel, electrosurgery, or a CO2 laser.