‘Mouth rot’ in Bearded dragons
Mouth rot, also called infectious stomatitis, necrotic stomatitis or oral inflammation, is caused by micro-organism infections in the mouths of reptiles. It is a fairly common medical condition seen in reptile pets, including Bearded dragons.
Signs of mouth rot in Bearded dragons
A broad diagnosis of mouth rot is made visually by proper inspection of the oral cavity / mouth. This disease can broadly be classified in early stage disease and late stage disease. Early stage mouth rot is evident when there is significant swelling and redness and bleeding around the teeth line. During the later stages the mouth edges are lined with mucous, puss/dead tissue and even blood. In severe cases excretions can be seen coming from the nostrils and eyes.
Treatment of mouth rot in Bearded dragons
Before treatment is started, the type of micro-organism needs to be establish. Very often the underlying cause (see below) will also have to be rectified. In the majority of cases mouth rot will be caused by bacteria, but fungal infections are also known to appear similarly. These infections are treated with appropriate anti-microbial medicine in the form of injections, rinses and/or ointments.
Mouth rot is almost always as a result of stress. Sick, injured and incorrectly kept Bearded dragons are mainly at risk for this disease. The main factor leading to mouth rot in Bearded dragons is incorrect husbandry, e.g. incorrect humidity/temperatures, overcrowding, etc. In order for successful treatment of mouth rot, these factors also needs to be addressed.
Apart from the the disease and environmental factors, Bearded dragons with mouth rot might also need ‘supportive treatment’. Many of these reptiles will be dehydrated and anorexic (not eating). In severe cases the mouth rot organism might also have spread to other parts, such as the lungs or intestinal track. All these needs to be assessed and addressed. Therefore treatment and testing should be done under the authority of an experienced reptile veterinarian.
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