Lizard Periodontal Disease
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Periodontal disease is common in lizards, especially chameleons and agamids. Periodontal disease is a significant cause of morbidity in captive lizards that have been fed an inappropriate diet (i.e. soft, wet, often overly fruitbased diet). A natural diet with adequate texture will prevent plaque buidup on teeth and keep bacteria from colonising. However when tartar accumulates, it causes an inflammatory response and periodontal disease eventually occurs. Osteomyelitis (focal or multifocal) of the mandible or maxilla may be the final outcome. This disease is more common in species with acrodont dentition. It is also often mistaken for stomatitis.
Clinical signs include:
- Facial swelling of the maxillae or mandible
- Dental tartar
- Gingivitis (gingival erythema)
- Loosening or loss of teeth
- Dental calculus
- Mouth gaping
Diagnosis is made based on the animal's history, a physical examination, culture (the oral flora becomes predominantly anaerobic and spirochaetes can be found) and radiology.
Treatment consists of the appropriate dental treatment, including a thorough oral examination under general anaesthesia, and the appropriate systemic antibiotics. The calculus should be removed and the gingival sulci cleaned; the mouth should be irrigated with as 0.05% chlorhexadine solution. Improving the diet (adequate textures and consistencies) and environment is the most efficient prevention method.
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Lizard Periodontal Disease publications
Management of periodontal disease in lizards. Stahl, S. J.; The North American Veterinary Conference, Gainesville, USA, Small animal and exotics. Proceedings of the North American Veterinary Conference, Volume 20, Orlando, Florida, USA, 7-11 January, 2006, 2006, pp 1671-1672, 2 ref. - Full Text Article