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Veterinary Dentistry Dental Case

Epulis in a Dog in Atlanta

This is an epulis in a dog in Atlanta.

An epulis is a tumor located in the gum tissue surrounding the dog’s teeth. The tumor originates from the tissue that connects the teeth to the bone of the jaw. These tumors are benign. They tend to invade nearby oral tissue and will require the removal of the tumor growth and surrounding tissue.

Epulides/epuli (plural of epulis) are common benign growths found in dogs’ mouths.


There are three types:

  • Fibromatous epulis appears on a stalk of tissue, much like a mushroom, or as an unmoving mass. It is usually pink in color and has a non-ulcerated smooth surface. It may appear as an enlargement on the gum tissue near incisor, canine, or premolar teeth.

  • Peripheral odontogenic fibroma (previously called ossifying epulides) is similar in appearance to a fibromatous epulis as it also has a pink smooth surface, but it has an osteoid matrix; it’s made up of early-stage bone cells known as osteoblasts.

  • Acanthomatous ameloblastoma (previously called acanthomatous epulis) is classified as benign but it tends to invade adjacent bone and it is locally aggressive. It can be pre-cancerous. However, it does not spread to other regions of the body. This tumor often has a rough cauliflower-like, ulcerated surface. It occurs most commonly in the incisor and canine tooth area of the lower and upper jaw. It occurs less commonly near the fourth upper premolar in the upper jaw and the lower jaw’s first molar.


Clinical Signs

Signs include a lump on the gums, drooling, halitosis, facial deformity, and other signs of mouth injury. The visible lump is the most common sign.

A dog epulis is now classified as a fibroosseous epulis.


Diagnosis

The diagnosis begins with a visual examination of the mouth.

Radiographs of the head can determine how invasive the tumor is.

Biopsy and histopathological (microscopic) examination of the lump will determine which type of epulis is present.


Treatment

Surgery for a fibrooseous epulis in a dog involves the removal of the soft tissue, bone, and affected teeth.

  • Fibromatous epulis: Treatment involves removing the mass, extracting the involved tooth, and thoroughly scraping the tooth socket clean.

  • Peripheral odontogenic fibroma: Treatment involves removing the mass, extracting the involved tooth, and thoroughly scraping the tooth socket clean. This surgery can be more difficult than that for fibromatous epulis.

  • Acanthomatous ameloblastoma: Treatment is surgical removal, including removing the affected areas of the upper or lower jaw (maxillectomy or mandibulectomy).

In some inoperable epulis cases, radiation therapy may help.


Aftercare

After surgery, your pet may need a softer diet.


Prognosis

The less tissue involved, the better. If a large section of the jaw has to be removed, it can affect the dog’s quality of life.

The oral tumors don’t usually recur if the entire tumor has been removed. However, some can. Checking your dog’s mouth frequently will help you spot any tumor recurrence or new tumors.

Occasionally, an acanthomatous epulis is treated with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Once we know what we are dealing with, we know how to treat an epulis. The difficulty is to diagnose it early.

Postoperative View After Removal of the Epulis

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