Oral Ulcers FAQ

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Ulceration of a cat's pharynx
due to feline stomatitis

What are oral ulcers?
Normally the oral cavity is covered with epithelium. When the epithelium is removed an ulcer forms. Soon bacteria populate the exposed area leading to inflammation and pain.

What causes oral ulcers?
There are many causes for oral ulcers. The most common reason small animals get ulcers is due to periodontal disease. Commonly, the inside lining of the cheek or lips rub against bacteria laden calculus over teeth affected with periodontal disease. The chronic rubbing wears away localized areas of the oral cavity lining leading to an ulcer. Other ulcer causes include, kidney failure, autoimmune disease, chemical injury, and trauma.

What are the signs?
Ulcers expose sensitive nerve endings which in some cases lead to painful chewing for your dog or cat. Some animals may drool excessively, while others paw at their mouths.

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Ulceration on top of second premolar
due to periodontal disease
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Healed ulcers after premolar


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Ulceration of the lower canine incisors
due to periodontal disease

How are oral ulcers diagnosed?
Visually ulcers appear as inflamed circular or oblong areas in the oral cavity. Common locations include inside lining of the cheeks and lips. The tongue and hard palate may also be affected.

How are oral ulcers treated?
Therapy of oral ulcers depends on the cause. If due to periodontal disease, teeth cleaning, polishing, and strict home care may affect a cure. Many times the teeth opposing the ulcer will need to be extracted in order for ulcer to heal. Oral rinses containing zinc are helpful in the healing process.

What is the prognosis for oral ulcers?
Generally the prognosis is excellent for oral ulcers once the underlying cause is diagnosed and controlled.


This page last updated on October 31, 2000
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Jan Bellows, DVM
All Pets Dental Clinic
17100 Royal Palm Blvd.
Weston, FL 33326
(954) 349-5800