Removal of Cyst Prevents Future Dental Problems for Golden Retriever

Cyst was visible when looking beneath the dog's lip.

Cyst was visible when looking beneath the dog’s lip.

Joey is a 1-year-old male Golden Retriever who presented to Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery with a progressive history of a cyst over the left maxillary canine tooth. Veterinary dental radiographs revealed an expansile mass over the area. The canine tooth was removed and the adjacent cystic structure removed and submitted for histopathology to determine if the cyst was cancerous. The surgery site was sutured and Joey made a normal recovery.

The biopsy results came back as a benign (non-cancerous) epithelial cyst. Although this lesion was benign, if it was left untreated it would have continued to expand into the surrounding bone and dental tissues and compromised the integrity of that part of his mouth.

Surgical site after removal of cyst.

Surgical site after removal of cyst.

Looking in your dog or cat’s mout regularly for any abnormalities is part of a good pet dental home care plan. Pet owners who notice any kind of unusual growth in their dog or cat’s mouth should immediately have them evaluated by a board certified veterinary dentist.

Read Dr. Woodward’s detailed veterinary dentistry case study, including full procedure descriptions and photos of Hemisection and Root Canal.

Jaw Trauma Requires Veterinary Specialist for Treatment

johnnyAfter an accident, Johnny, a Coon Hound, was taken to a general veterinarian and diagnosed with a mandibular fracture, a fractured rib and numerous puncture wounds and lacerations. Attempt was made to stabilize the mandibular fracture with an intramedullary pin. Unfortunately, the root of the left mandibular canine tooth was violated with the pin and the fracture site was not stabilized. The veterinarian referred Johnny to Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery for evaluation.

A complete open comminuted fracture of the left rostral mandible was diagnosed. The root of the left mandibular canine tooth had a perfectly round linear tract through it secondary to the attempted intramedullary pin placement. A large section of mandibular bone was missing, along with the first and second premolars. The right mandibular canine tooth had a complicated crown fracture.

Dog broken Jaw

Radiograph showing severity of fracture.

Due to the extent of the trauma and the amount of mandibular bone missing, fracture fixation was not practical. A left rostral mandibulectomy was performed. A pleural block was performed with local anesthetics to provide additional analgesia for the fractured rib. Johnny was sent home with antibiotics and pain relief and a follow-up visit will include a re-check examination and canine root canal procedure on the right mandibular canine tooth.

Vet Dental Update: Vol. 1 No. 6

Anesthesia and pain management for small animals
Beckman B
Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 43(3):669-88, 2013.

Anesthesia for oral surgery in dogs and cats requires special consideration and thorough planning to maximize patient safety. Well-trained technical staff capable of providing expedient delivery of quality dental radiographs and precision anesthesia monitoring are essential. Doctors need to be well versed in dental radiographic interpretation and competent and experienced in oral surgical techniques, particularly in surgical extractions. The work flow from patient induction to recovery involves estimate generation and client communication with multiple staff members. Knowledge of anesthetic and analgesic agents from premedication to postoperative pain management play an equally important role in patient safety.

Veterinary dentistry in senior canines and felines
Holmstrom SE.
Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 42(4):793-808, 2012.

When you have completed this article, you will be able to (1) understand and grade patients with periodontal disease and prescribe proper treatment for them; (2) describe the AVDC Stages of Tooth resorption and the treatment; (3) describe the non-clinically aggressive and aggressive oral tumors; (4) be knowledgeable of the American Animal Hospital Association Guidelines on Veterinary Dental Procedures and how to obtain them; and (5) understand the disadvantage of Non-Professional Dental Scaling (NPDS) and why it should not be performed.

Assessment of dental abnormalities by full-mouth radiography in small breed dogs.
Kim CG, Lee SY, Kim JW, Park HM
J Am Anim Hosp Assoc.49(1):23-30, 2013


This study was performed to evaluate full-mouth radiographic findings to determine the prevalence of dental abnormalities and analyze the relationship between dental abnormalities and age in small breed dogs. Sixteen predetermined categories of abnormal radiographic findings were evaluated in 233 small breed dogs. In total, 9,786 possible permanent teeth could be evaluated. Of those, 8,308 teeth were evaluated and abnormal radiographic findings were found in 2,458 teeth (29.6%). The most common teeth with abnormal radiographic findings were the mandibular first molars (74.5% on the left and 63.9% on the right) and the maxillary fourth premolars (40.5% on the left and 38.2% on the right). Bone loss of any type (15.8%) was the most commonly detected radiographic abnormal finding among the 16 categories. Dental conditions with a genetic predisposition were frequently occurred in the mandibular premolar teeth. Shih tzu frequently had unerupted teeth and dentigerous cysts. Among the teeth with abnormal radiographic findings, 4.5%, 19.8%, and 5.3% were considered incidental, additional, and important, respectively. Findings that were only detected on radiographs, which were not noted on routine oral examination, were more common in older dogs. Full-mouth radiographic evaluation should be performed to obtain important information for making accurate diagnoses.

AVDC Annual Veterinary Dental Forum

Each of the veterinary dental specialists found here is board certified by the Americal Veterinary Dental College (AVDC). AVDC board certification is the highest level of certification in veterinary dentistry, meaning each specialist is widely experienced and is a top expert in veterinary dentistry.

Each year the AVDC holds a veterinary dental forum, where our veterinary dentists participate, lecture, present papers, teach wet labs to further the field of veterinary dentistry and mission to promote optimal pet dental health.

Our group of board certified veterinary dentists is committed to our field of specialty and again looks forward to participating in the AVDC Veterinary Dental Forum, where we can share techniques, best practices and offer educational opportunities to veterinary doctors and veterinary professionals across the US.

Some of the veterinary dentistry topics being presented or taught by our board certified veterinary dentists include:

  • Pet Tooth Restorations
  • Pet Crown Preparations
  • Pet Endodontics
  • Canine Extractions
  • Proper Therapy of Fractured Pet Teeth
  • Feline Extractions
  • Veterinary Radiology
  • Treatment Options for Base Narrow Canines

On Sunday, Oct. 6, 12:30-1:30 p.m. (CST) some of our veterinary dentists will hold a live chat on Twitter from the AVDC forum. Use #vetdentistchat to participate or ask your pet dental health question.



Older Pet

Lifesaving Treatment for Severe Oral Trauma

Dog jaw fractures - Veterinary Dentistry

Smokey, Miniature Italian Greyhound treated after severe jaw damage from being hit by a car.

Smokey is a 10 year old Miniature Italian Greyhound who was hit by a car. He came to Animal Dental Care after being first seen by the veterinary emergency clinic. Unfortunately, his owner had no financial means to care for him and as a last resort to hopefully get him help, surrendered him to the local humane society, which most likely would still result in him being euthanized. In an effort to help Smokey, an emergency clinic employee contacted a local Italian Greyhound rescue and a member of the rescue agreed to personally foot the bill for treatment, but only if the owner was able to provide the needed aftercare. The owner was thrilled to get her dog back and agreed to provide the needed post-operative care. Continue reading “Lifesaving Treatment for Severe Oral Trauma” »

Vet Dental Update – Vol. 1 No. 4

Evaluation of maxillary arterial blood flow in anesthetized cats with mouth closed & open
Barton-Lamb AL, Martin-Flores M, Scrivani PV, et al.
Vet J. 2013 Feb. 7.

The goal of this study was to investigate whether maximal opening of the mouth by a mouth gag affects maxillary artery blood flow in six anesthetized cats. The electroretinogram, brainstem auditory evoked response, and magnetic resonance angiography were evaluated qualitatively to assess blood flow with the mouth open and closed. Maximal opening of the mouth caused alterations in several indicators of blood flow in some individual cats.

Efficacy and safety of deracoxib for control of postoperative pain and inflammation associated with soft tissue surgery in dogs.
Bienhoff SE, Smith ES, Roycroft LM, Roberts ES
Vet Surg. 41(3):336-44, 2012.

Deracoxib was administered at a dose of 1-2 mk/kg/day for 3 days for control of postoperative pain and inflammation associated with soft tissue surgery in dogs. Dogs were given a preoperative treatment and again once daily for 2 additional days after surgery. Pain evaluation was done using the Glasgow Composite Pain Scale (GCPS). Significantly fewer dogs treated with deracoxib had to be rescued with pain intervention than placebo. Dogs receiving deracoxib had numerically lower GCPS scores. Study suggests that perioperative administration of deracoxib to dogs at 1-2 mg/kg/day for 3 days significantly improves analgesia in the postoperative surgical period after soft tissue surgery.

Evaluation of the risk of endocarditis and other cardiovascular events on the basis of the severity of periodontal disease in dogs.
Glickman LT, Glickman NW, Moore GE, Goldstein GS, Lewis HB.
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 234(4):486-94, 2009.

Significant associations were detected between the severity of periodontal disease and the subsequent risk of cardiovascular-related conditions, such as endocarditis and cardiomyopathy, but not between the severity of periodontal disease and the risk of a variety of other common noncardiovascular-related conditions. The findings of this observational study, similar to epidemiologic studies in humans, suggested that periodontal disease was associated with cardiovascular-related conditions, such as endocarditis and cardiomyopathy. Chronic inflammation is probably an important mechanism connecting bacterial flora in the oral cavity of dogs with systemic disease. Canine health may be improved if veterinarians and pet owners place a higher priority on routine dental care.

Multiple dental developmental abnormalities following canine distemper infection.
Bittegeko SB, Arnbjerg J, Nkya R, Tevik A.
J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 31(1):42-5, 1995.

Multiple dental developmental abnormalities (e.g., dental impaction, partial eruption, oligodontia, enamel hypoplasia, and dentin hypoplasia) in a 10-month-old, female, Tanzanian tropical mixed-breed puppy are reported. Various permanent teeth were involved. These included impacted mandibular canine and first and third premolar teeth; a partially erupted maxillary canine tooth; oligodontia of a mandibular fourth premolar tooth; enamel hypoplasia of the maxillary and mandibular canine teeth, incisors, and premolars; and dentin hypoplasia of the maxillary incisors, maxillary premolars, and mandibular premolars. The puppy had clinical canine distemper at the age of two months and had no history of any other systemic nor generalized infection prior to the time when the dental abnormalities were observed.



Tiny Yorkie, Major Dental Problems

yorkie dental disease

Dr. Niemiec with Safari, a rescued 2lb.  Yorkie rescue with severe dental disease.

Safari, a Yorkie in foster placement with Yorkshire Terrier National Rescue, weighed in at less than two pounds when she presented for veterinary evaluation. Unfortunately, Safari had severe dental disease with very infected teeth and gums.

A referring general practice veterinarian at the Governor Animal Clinic indicated that specialty care with Dr. Niemiec and Southern California Veterinary Specialties would be the right decision for the best success for Safari. Due to her extremely small size, there were concerns regarding anesthesia and also for significant risk of breaking her tiny jaw during the tooth extractions procedure. These risks would be greatly minimized by having a board certified veterinary dental specialist perform her needed dental procedures.

Safari was scheduled for dental surgery with Dr. Niemiec. A complete oral examination and dental  x-rays required general anesthesia, which was performed with safe and current standards of advanced veterinary medicine. The exam and x-rays revealed severe gum disease with infected tooth roots of nearly all the teeth in her mouth. In addition, there were several retained puppy/baby teeth which were also infected. Dr. Niemiec performed extractions of all but Safari’s two lower molar teeth. There were no surgical complications and Safari recovered very well from anesthesia.

Thanks to advanced veterinary dental care, Safari is now much happier and healthier, without a painful mouth; and she is now looking for a forever home. If you are interested in adopting Safari or any other homeless Yorkie dogs, please visit

What Safari’s foster provider shared with us:


“Your confidence in the surgery required to fix her mouth has given us all hope that Safari will be able to overcome the first of many obstacles she will face in order to live a healthy life. Her teeth are the worst we have ever seen in over fifteen years of Yorkie Rescue, and we knew only the best would feel poised undertaking the surgery required to clean out her severely infected mouth. Your reputation precedes you with good reason.

We are sorry we were unable to thank you in person today, and we want to reiterate our most sincere thanks on behalf of everyone at Yorkshire Terrier National Rescue, and especially Safari herself, for putting her on your surgery schedule.”

Vet Dental Update Vol. 1 No. 1

Ophthalmic manifestations and complications of dental disease in dogs and cats
Ramsey DT, Marretta SM, Hamor RE, et al.
J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 1996 May-Jun;32(3):215-24.

Because of the intimate anatomic relationship between the maxillary dentition and ophthalmic structures, dental disease may manifest itself as ophthalmic disease. Primary dental disease should always be a consideration when encountering diseases involving the globe and/or orbit. Dental radiographs can help identify any existing dental disease. Inappropriate dental treatment may also result in iatrogenic damage to ophthalmic structures. Continue reading “Vet Dental Update Vol. 1 No. 1” »

Racee - Dog with Periodontal Disease & Root Canal

Acting Like a Puppy Again After Extractions & Root Canal

Racee - Dog with Periodontal Disease & Root Canal

Racee, Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists Patient.

Racee is 8 1/2 years old, but according to her owners has always been as energetic as a puppy. Recently, Racee’s owners noticed she wasn’t acting her usual playful self. Then they noticed a broken tooth in her mouth and decided to take her for an evaluation at Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists. Upon examination under veterinary anesthesia, it was discovered that in addition to the broken tooth, about a third of Racee’s mouth was infected with periodontal disease.

The veterinary dental treatment plan consisted of tooth extraction, root tip extraction and a root canal.

Seven of Racee’s teeth needed to be extracted because they had advanced periodontal disease. Periodontal disease in a pet’s mouth means that there is infection around the tooth that has caused bone loss, in this case leaving Racee’s teeth loose and unable to remain in her mouth.

In addition, a root tip was extracted due to surrounding infection. An infected root tip will cause pain to a pet, which we always keep a top concern in veterinary dentistry.

Root canal therapy was done on Racee’s lower canine because the tooth had an exposed pulp, which will lead to death of a pet’s tooth and cause an abscess. A dog’s lower canine has a very large root and gives the lower jaw a lot of strength, if the tooth is extracted the jaw can be weakened and possibly fracture. Saving the tooth with root canal therapy allowed us to keep Racee’s tooth in the mouth. Although the tooth is dead, the root canal allows it to remain functional, just as in human root canals.

After treatment, Racee’s family reported her being back to her playful self, acting like a puppy once again. Watch a video testimonial from Racee’s mom below.


Splint Used to Stabilize & Save Dog’s Tooth

Splint placed to stabalize Jennabell's tooth.

Splint placed to stabilize Jennabell’s tooth.

Jennabell, a 9 year-old female Husky, was attacked by two other dogs and her owner noticed that her left canine tooth was displaced laterally (luxated). She initially took Jennabell to her regular veterinarian who reduced the tooth back to its normal position and repaired the lacerated gingiva around it. Her vet advised further evaluation from a veterinary dental specialist in order to have the tooth stabilized in place.

Jennabell presented the following day to Animal Dental Care in Colorado Springs. Upon evaluation, it was determined that the left maxillary canine tooth was slightly mobile, but still in place. Digital veterinary dental radiographs (x-rays), under anesthesia, did not reveal any fracture of the root or surrounding bone, however there was significant widening of the periodontal ligament space secondary to where the trauma was observed.

After thorough evaluation of Jennabell’s mouth and x-rays, the decision was made to try to save Jennabell’s tooth rather than extract. Orthopedic wire was placed in a figure-eight pattern between the two maxillary canine teeth and secured in place with flowable composite material. Acrylic splint material was placed over the wire and around the base of the maxillary canine teeth.

Jennabell returned three weeks later for splint removal. The left maxillary canine tooth was stable and not mobile, but slightly discolored. This indicated probable non-vitality (death) of the tooth and a standard root canal procedure was performed.