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Chronic osteitis and alveolitis are inflammation in the bone of the alveolus (tooth socket). This inflammation occurs as a result of chronic periodontal disease. It occurs most commonly with the canine teeth (large front corner teeth) of cats, but infrequently occurs in dogs as well.
Signs A bulge in the gingiva (gums) over the affected teeth is usually readily observed. Because abnormal new bone is being produced in the socket, the teeth are usually "supererupted" or "extruded"; that is, they are being pushed out of the socket. This may give the appearance of the tooth being longer than normal. Supereruption eventually will lead to the tooth becoming loose.
Chronic osteitis and alveolitis are usually not painful, but discomfort can occur when the tooth becomes loose, if the extended tooth contacts the opposite lip, or if the associated periodontal disease is severe.
In a small number of cases, the periodontal disease will result in an oronasal fistula, which is an ulcer alongside the tooth connecting the mouth to the nasal cavity.
Treatment Treatment is based on the results of an examination of the anesthetized patient; sometimes we will also use dental x-rays. If the tooth is not loose and periodontal disease is mild, a careful and thorough cleaning is all that is required. This should be repeated, along with the anesthetized exam, on at least a once yearly basis. If the tooth is loose and/or periodontal disease is more than mild, then extraction is necessary. Oronasal fistula requires surgical repair.
With proper management and treatment, the long-term prognosis is very good.
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