Dr Bailey
Oral Exams:
It's More Than Just The Teeth

by Janet Bailey, DVM, DACVIM

Oral examinations are an important aspect of a complete physical examination. Dogs and cats are almost always unwilling to allow a complete open mouth exam. If an owner is concerned that their pet has foul breath, exaggerated swallow, pawing at the mouth, weight loss without identifiable cause, or loss of normal voice, a sedated oral examination should be done.   

A sedated oral examination should include evaluation of the following areas:
  • under the tongue
  • the base of the tongue
  • the teeth
  • the tonsils
  • the caudal fossa
Palpation of the hard and soft palate, the bones and lymph nodes of the jaw and face should also be done. Visualization of the larynx and epiglottis can be done with the help of a laryngoscope. Fine needle aspirates and small biopsies can be obtained during the sedated oral examination.   

The age of the pet, history, physical examination, and sedated oral examination findings help to create a list of differential diagnoses. 

Feline oral examination
Squamous cell carcinoma in the caudal fossa.

Canine oral examination
Tongue extended during sedated oral examination revealing a mass on the base of the tongue. The mass is not visible with awake oral exam.

Canine oral examination
Squamous cell carcinoma in the tonsilar crypt.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to our Internal Medicine specialists for a complimentary phone consultation if you have a patient presenting unique or difficult oral pathology. We can be reached at 480.635.1110 x7.

We welcome your call at 480.635.1110 x7 to learn more, make a referral, 
or discuss a case for referral consideration.
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