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Fibromatous Epulis

General Information

Fibromatous epulis is the most common non-cancerous oral tumor of dogs. These firm, pink tumors arise from the gums. Though they are benign (non-cancerous), non-invasive growths, they may become quite large and completely envelop one or more teeth. It also may not be possible to tell whether an oral tumor is an epulis or one of the less common, malignant tumors that may occur in the mouth. These growths may become inflamed and ulcerated, causing pain on chewing. They are most common in dogs over 8 years of age.

Fibromatous Epulis (Fibrous Oral Mass)

What is an epulis?

An epulis is the most common type of non-cancerous (benign) tumor in a dog's mouth. A benign tumor is one that does not spread to other parts of the body. However, an epulis can be "locally invasive," which means that it can grow into the tissues surrounding its initial location.

What causes an epulis to form?

The cause is unknown.

What are the signs of an epulis?

An epulis is usually first noticed as a growth on the gum line of the dog's mouth. In rare cases, teeth may be moved from their normal position because of the growth of the epulis. Your pet is initially unaffected by the epulis. However, if the growth becomes large, it could bleed, cause problems with eating, or affect the teeth or jawbone.

How is an epulis diagnosed?

A thorough oral exam and a biopsy of the epulis is essential for proper diagnosis. Since many cancerous oral tumors can look like an epulis, it is important to differentiate an epulis from true cancer.

How is an epulis treated?

An epulis is treated by surgically removing it, including a broad margin around the growth. Sometimes, especially with larger tumors, teeth adjacent to the epulis have to be removed. In other cases, portions of the jawbone may need to be removed to cure the condition. Radiation treatment is sometimes used in addition to or instead of surgery.

What is the prognosis for an epulis?

The prognosis is good if the entire epulis can be removed, so it's best to avoid delay of surgery that would allow the epulis to grow. After surgical removal, the prognosis can be very good depending on the type of epulis removed. A subtype of epulis called an "acanthomatous" epulis can cause more bone problems than the other types, and can be more difficult to completely remove.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Surgical removal is the recommended treatment. Most growths do not recur following excision.

2. Soft foods should be fed for ____ days after surgery.

3. Do not allow your pet to have bones, rawhide chew sticks or other chew toys for _____ days after surgery.


Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur:

* Your dog is reluctant to eat, or chewing seems to cause pain.

* Your dog bleeds from the mouth.

* Your dog's general health changes.