Chronic Contact Mucositis/Stomatitis in Dogs…Why Cleaning Teeth Makes No Sense

Chronic Contact Mucositis/Stomatitis (formerly called CUPS) is an extremely painful disease process in the dog. While the exact etiology is not fully understood, research has shown that the body is reacting violently to plaque on a tooth, which triggers an exaggerated response of an immunoglobulin (IgG). An inflammatory cascade follows, thus leading to degradation of the gingiva, bone loss, and intense oral pain and discomfort.

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Severe contact mucositis/stomatitis

So why do vets continue to clean these teeth, or even worse, place the pet on antibiotics (either long-term or a variety of antibiotics)? That doesn’t eliminate the disease, it only masks it, which is also temporary.

The solution is not more cleanings or long-term antibiotics. The solution is a very aggressive approach. Teeth must be removed, and in many instances, all of them. While people cringe at the thought of their dog losing all their teeth, the outcome is always favorable for the pet. I can tell you that I have performed tens and tens of full-mouth extractions in dogs with chronic mucositis/stomatitis, and they ALL respond favorably. They return to a pre-infection quality of life, and the pain and odor is GONE.

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2 week post op image. Surgical removal of the pathology is the only true cure of contact mucositis/stomatitis

So if your dog has been diagnosed with this very painful syndrome, consult a veterinary dental specialist. The antibiotics or routine cleanings may help short-term, but the long-term pain and suffering will return without more aggressive treatment.

Barden Greenfield, DVM, DAVDC

Your Pet Dentist of Memphis and Little Rock

Dr. Barden Greenfield is a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) and the founder of Your Pet Dentist of Memphis and Little Rock. He received his BS (Microbiology) at Louisiana State University and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He also serves on the AVDC Board of Directors and is currently President.
  1. Sherrie Weathers Reply

    I would like everyone to know that Dr. Greenfield and Tammy are the BEST!!! We brought our 11 year old rescue dog, Bear, in because of CUPS disease. We had never heard of a disease like this and had never had any other dogs with this disease, so there were a ton of questions. Before the surgery Bear was acting as if he was in a great deal of pain and wouldn’t let anyone look at his teeth or get near his mouth. Dr. Greenfield explained what would happen and how the surgery to extract all of Bear’s teeth would be done. He and Tammy also kept us up to date on how Bear was doing after the surgery and what to expect when we got home. It has now been 3 weeks since the surgery and Bear is a completely different dog! He’s “talking” more, eating normally, and will even let us look at his mouth and pet all around his muzzle. He’s 11 years old but acts half his age now that he’s not in pain. We are so very pleased with the care, thoughtfulness, and compassion that was shown to our Puppy and would highly recommend Dr. Greenfield and Tammy. We know that we will be returning for all of our animals dental needs in the future. Thanks! Daryl and Sherrie Weathers

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