Yes, Pets Do Get Periodontal Disease

It may come as a surprise, but periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in adult dogs and cats. Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria from the dog or cat’s mouth form on the teeth in a plaque. The plaque makes its way under the gumline and sets in motion a vicious cycle, which, if left undetected and untreated can eventually lead to tooth loss.

Dog jaw fracture due to periodontal disease

X-ray showing jaw fracture due to advanced periodontal disease.

The process is described by California Veterinary Dentist, Dr. Brook Niemiec, DAVDC. “The bacteria in the plaque beneath the gum line will secrete toxins. These toxins damage the periodontal tissues and can decrease the attachment. However, the bacteria will also elicit an inflammatory response from the animal’s gingival tissues. White blood cells and other inflammatory mediators will leak out of the periodontal tissues and into the periodontal space (between the gum or bone and the tooth). The white blood cells will release their enzymes to destroy the bacterial invaders, but will also damage the attachment of the tooth. As the disease progresses, the pocket will get deeper and deeper. This will weaken the bone in the area, and if it is in the lower jaw it can weaken it to the point of causing a  fracture. The end stage of this disease is tooth loss, however the disease has caused pain and problems for your pet well before this.” Continue reading “Yes, Pets Do Get Periodontal Disease” »

Treating Tripper’s Chronic Oral Disease

Treating Cat Oral Disease - Houston Vet DentistTripper the cat was initially referred to Dr. Boyd at Veterinary Dental Services & Oral Surgery in Houston, for full mouth extractions to treat chronic periodontal disease, feline tooth resorption, gingival hyperplasia and oral pain.

Tripper’s family brought him to Veterinary Dental Services & Oral Surgery to have him evaluated and treated to save some of his teeth if possible. Dr. Boyd gave Tripper a thorough oral and dental evaluation under anesthesia that included full mouth vet dental x-rays, teeth cleaning, gingivectomy, extractions and periodontal treatment.

Two weeks post treatment Tripper had responded well to treatment and his periodontal disease had improved. Dr. Boyd scheduled Tripper for a two month re-evaluation appointment and recommended complete cat home dental care protocol using CET toothpaste and Biotene.

Feline Dental DiseaseUnfortunately at the two month evaluation Tripper’s condition was worse and he was developing inflammation of the gingiva and mucosa in the back of his mouth. Home care was difficult and Tripper was uncomfortable and in pain. Dr. Boyd recommended full extractions of all of Tripper’s remaining teeth as the best treatment for his condition.

One month after Tripper’s teeth were extracted the follow-up evaluation revealed healing tissues and 50 percent improvement in the red –inflamed oral tissue. Tripper was eating well and did not show signs of pain. After treatment, Dr. Boyd received the following note from Tripper’s family:

“We have just recently had our 3 1/2 year male adorable cat’s teeth all removed because of early health problems before we had him.  Dr. Boyd and his team were absolutely the best.  Of course, Tripper, our cat is still not sure what he thinks of them but he is warming up to them.  He is healthier and so much more energetic since they helped him get on the right track and now we will keep him healthy.  He is eating soft and  hard food and hard treats – he is amazing.  He was eating 2-3 days after all his teeth were extracted.  If you have a pet with dental health problems – look no farther – this is the place – they are knowledgeable, empathetic and truly seem to love their vocation.  We consider them part of our family now.  Thanks to all of you!!”

Hoping to Save Dog’s Incisor Teeth After Anesthesia Free Dental Care

Dog with periodontal diseaseBrioso had been getting anesthesia free dentistry performed for the last few years. Upon a regular veterinary visit, the doctor examined his mouth and teeth, which looked good externally. However, the vet then performed an Orastrip test to help identify periodontal disease.

OraStrip canine periodontal disease test strip

The test results were positive for periodontal disease and the patient was placed under anesthesia for an exam and dental radiographs (x-rays). Unfortunately, numerous severely diseased teeth were found, including the dog’s lower incisors which were very loose.

Brioso was referred to Dr. Niemiec of Southern California Veterinary Specialties to try and save his incisors, as extraction of a dog’s incisors not optimal and when possible, veterinary dentists will make every effort to preserve these teeth.

In order to save the teeth, a periodontal flap was performed to clean the infected root surfaces, followed by bone grafting and a barrier to attempt to regrow the lost bone. In addition, because of the loose teeth, a periodontal splint was placed to help the area heal.

Cases like this are becoming more common as more pet owners are choosing to skip proper veterinary dental care, for anesthesia free dental cleanings. Like other cases, Brioso’s demonstrates the ineffectiveness of anesthesia free pet teeth cleanings and the potential damage and more extensive treatment costs in the long term. While it is good news we have the technology to save pet teeth when possible, veterinary dental professionals would prefer a pet receive proper pet dental cleanings which can prevent pet dental disease from becoming so severe.

Below are images of Brioso’s case, however it will take up to six months to determine if the bone grafting worked and his teeth saved.

 

 

Thomas - Cat Root Canals - AZ Vet Dentists

Thomas the Cat Finds a Home and Dentist

Thomas - Cat Root Canals - AZ Vet DentistsThomas was a stray cat who found a wonderful owner who gave him a home and even found him a cat dentist. It’s not only a great story about a kind person who gave a cat a home, but an example of the difference having a pain free mouth makes for animals.

“Thomas has quite a story. He is a yellow shorthair, probably about 6 years old. He wandered the Bashas’ parking lot at Scottsdale Road and Grayhawk for over five years. He made a lot of friends, mainly begging food from Bashas’ shoppers. He slept in the bushes and managed to hide from coyotes, bobcats, owls and hawks. He had several kind-hearted women who fed him every night, rain and shine for over five years. However, the property managers were very unhappy that people were feeding stray cats on the property, and two of the businesses posted signs telling people not to feed the cats.

So, I figured it was time to catch Thomas and give him a forever home. I took a cage out for a week and got him used to coming and going into it. Then, one night he went in after tuna fish, and I closed the door. He wasn’t happy, but didn’t bite or scratch.

Cat After Root CanalI took him to my vet who found out he had some broken teeth and recommended Dr. Visser at Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists. I took him in and Dr. Visser recommended root canal therapy to fix the teeth as opposed to removing them.  I don’t know how someone can do a root canal on a tooth as small as a cat’s, but thanks to Dr. Visser, Thomas still has three of his four canines. He also had two infected teeth, which required extraction and the rest of his teeth got a good cleaning.

At the time of his root canal recheck he’s gained weight and is doing really well. The first week he slept most of the time but now, he is interested in cuddling and drooling all over my arms. He is adjusting well to being inside, with no yowling or crying and he sleeps through the night. Thomas is a beautiful cat with a great personality. And now he will have a pain free, beautiful smile! He is one lucky cat!”

Below are images of Thomas’s teeth prior to treatment and a veterinary dental radiograph showing the root canal.

dangers of anesthesia free pet dental care

Consequences of Anesthesia Free Pet Dental Care

Contact Dr. Woodward at Animal Dental Care in Colorado Springs at 719-536-9949 or at wellpets.com

Contact Dr. Woodward at Animal Dental Care in Colorado Springs at 719-536-9949 or at wellpets.com

Recently Colorado veterinary dental specialist Dr. Tony Woodward cared for a middle-aged dog who’d had multiple anesthesia free pet dental cleanings over the last few years in place of professional veterinary dental care. The dog’s teeth did not look very bad and the patient was actually referred to Animal Dental Care in Colorado for another dental problem, not a cleaning. Because the dog’s teeth appeared fairly clean to the owner, they were under the impression that the anesthesia free cleanings had been working well, which unfortunately wasn’t the case. What lurked beneath this dog’s gumline is a clear example of the long-term consequences dogs and owners face when falling prey to the myths of anesthesia free pet dental care.

After full examination including dental radiographs, the problems were evident and resulted in extraction of 16 teeth that were not treatable, due to long-term infection that had gone undetected during the anesthesia-free cleaning procedures. These abscessed teeth were not loose, so a lay person merely scaling the teeth would have never known there was a problem. However, had this dog been taken in for a proper dental cleaning with safe anesthesia and dental x-rays, the areas of severe bone loss and infection could have been treated much earlier and possibly even prevented. In other words, these teeth could have been saved with proper care.

Below are photos and x-rays detailing the case and demonstrating the damage resulting from the anesthesia free teeth cleanings.

Dangers of anesthesia free pet dental care

Picture of the left lower side, showing small amounts of calculus (tartar) above the dog’s gum line.

Grooves in dog teeth due improper anesthesia free cleaning

After cleaning the deep grooves are visible on the teeth from the previous anesthesia free cleaning procedure. The teeth had not been properly polished which allowed rapid accumulation of tartar shortly after the last cleaning.

Grooves in dog teeth due improper anesthesia free cleaning

A dental X-ray of the area, showing large amounts of bone loss around the lower first molar, extending almost all the way through the jaw.

Grooves in dog teeth due improper anesthesia free cleaning

Another dental x-ray after extraction, showing the large defect in the jaw with bone graft material placed into the surgery site.

dangers of anesthesia free pet dental care

The left upper side, showing a dental probe placed between the roots from the inside of the dog’s mouth to the outside.

Dangers of anesthesia free pet dental care

Dental X-ray of this area, showing the large areas of bone loss that had gone untreated, resulting in severe infection and loss of the dog’s teeth in this area.

 

Sparrow – A Special Dog Who Deserved Special Care!

Sparrow - Australian Shepherd Puppy - Wisconsin

Meet Dunham Lake Captain Jack “Sparrow”

Australian Terrier,  Dunham Lake Captain Jack “Sparrow” was born in 2012, without his front right leg, a birth defect was likely due to his mother being exposed to something toxic early on in her pregnancy.  Despite the missing leg, Sparrow continued to thrive, had a slight problem with his right eye (ulcerated cornea), but all other development seemed to be normal.

As he started to lose his puppy teeth, I noticed he would make a funny grinding noise with this teeth and his breath smelled like metal (blood). I watched him carefully, as I do with all my puppies. I had some concerns about the way some of the teeth seemed to be coming in on right side of his mouth, but I also thought, it would straighten out as the puppy teeth fell out.

Examining Puppy Teeth - Wisconsin Vet Dentist

Sparrow’s owner examining his mouth lead her to contact Wisconsin Veterinary Dental Specialist Dr. Dale Kressin.

On February 28, 2013, Sparrow was not acting like himself. I looked at this teeth again, they seemed okay, but the smell of his breath was even worse. I opened his mouth wide and then saw the problem. It appeared to me, that his bottom teeth on the right side were actually cutting into the roof of his mouth and creating an open bloody crevice on the right side of the roof of his mouth. There also was that one molar that I had been concerned about, which was protruding outward toward his check on the upper right jaw.  I decided I better put him on a pain killer and an antibiotic just to be on the safe side.

I was quite distressed about this and had planned to bring him into my vet, but decided that it would be better for him to see a veterinary specialist. My daughter quickly started googling Veterinarian Dental Specialist in Minnesota or Wisconsin and located Dr. Kressin’s Eden Prairie office and the University of Minnesota as two possible places that would specialize in Animal Oral Surgery.

I contacted Dr. Kressin who was very kind and he explained some options. I felt very confident that Dr. Kressin was the right vet dentist for Sparrow, but I was hoping that he could be seen in his Eden Prairie office, not in Oshkosh because that is a 6 hour drive from our home. Dr. Kressin explained that if we could get him to Oshkosh, he would evaluate his condition and he could begin treatment or surgery that same day. I told Dr. Kressin I would get back to him very soon, but I was also going to contact the U of M, since that is only 1 1/2 hours from my home.

After discovering that the U of M would not be able to begin any treatment or surgery on Sparrow until the end of the month at the earliest, the decision was easy. I contacted Dr. Kressin and we made an appointment for the following week to have him see Sparrow in Oshkosh.

Upon arrival at Dr. Kressin’s veterinary dental clinic, we were very impressed with Dr. Kressin and his staff, who explained everything to us in detail including what they had planned to explore and the costs associated with everything. As Dr. Kressin worked on Sparrow, he called me to give up dates, which was very comforting. We left Sparrow in excellent hands and we picked him up a few hours later. This experience couldn’t have been any better.

Sparrow - vet dentistry patient - wisconsin vet dentist

Sparrow recovered well after vet dental surgery with Dr. Kressin.

That evening in our hotel room, Sparrow was running around as if he had never had surgery. In just 11 days since Sparrow’s surgery, he continues to do well. His recovery has been on track if not ahead of schedule. I have great expectations that he will continue to improve and be as comfortable and normal as my other dogs.

We can not thank Dr. Kressin enough for his expertise, through diagnosis and decisions he made in the best interest of our little dog. His commitment and dedication to his patients is superb.

To see Sparrow’s videos or more photos, please visit his website at www.dunhamlakecaptainjacksparrow.com

Sparrow - Wisconsin Vet Dentist Patient

Give a Dog a Bone?

Give your dog a bone and without question they’ll run off to gnaw and chew for hours. But, next time you see those bones at the grocery or pet store, consider they may end up costing you much more than a few dollars. Dog bones have the potential to seriously damage your dog’s teeth, which can lead to an unexpected veterinary bill. The following video from Veterinary News Network, offers excellent information about the risks of letting a dog chew on bones.

Broken dog tooth - Vet Dentist

A fractured dog tooth is painful & must be treated.

While bones are not the only cause for fractured teeth, board certified veterinary dentists will agree it’s is a common cause for dogs who must be treated for broken teeth. “In most cases, broken teeth are caused by the significant biting force dogs can generate coupled with the items they  chew,” says Dr. Michael Peak, a vet dentist in Florida.

“For dogs, chewing on hard materials commonly causes broken or fractured teeth. The result is often a tooth fracture that extends into the pulp canal within the tooth,” says Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialist Dr. Chris Visser.

Since your dog can’t tell you about their pain, you may not initially realize your dog has a broken tooth – but you can be assured broken teeth are very painful for your pet. Dr. Dale Kressin, a Wisconsin Vet Dentist explains, “The anatomy, physiology and nervous system of our companion animals is incredibly similar to our own.  It is only logical to assume animals experience pain from fractured teeth as we do.”

Signs you may notice are your dog not wanting to eat hard treats or food or not being as playful as usual, however sometimes you may not notice anything at all. Maybe owners report that they didn’t notice any difference in their dog’s behavior until after treatment when they suddenly seem like a whole new dog. Regular pet oral exams and radiographs are vital to diagnose any problems in your pet’s mouth including broken teeth. Dr. Woodward, a veterinary dentist in Colorado says, “Waiting for the pet to show signs of pain, which hardly ever happens, can actually leave the pet in pain for years.

Can my dog’s broken tooth be repaired? Yes, there are options to repair a dog’s broken tooth. One option many pet owners are unaware of is that a Veterinary Dentist can provide endontic or root canal treatment for a dog’s broken tooth instead of extracting the tooth. “Depending on which tooth is extracted, it can be a significant loss for the pet,” says Washington Vet Dentist Dr. Allen Matson, “therefore often a better option is root canal therapy, which saves the dogs tooth.”

So, while it can be tempting to give your dog a bone, you can save your dog and your wallet the pain caused by a broken tooth.

Planning for your puppy’s dental health

Dental Care for Puppies - Veterinary DentistryAre you bringing a new puppy home? There’s nothing quite like the first time you and your family hold your new puppy! They are so soft, cuddly and they have that sweet smelling puppy breath when they give you those kisses.

While they don’t stay puppies for long, and the puppy breath eventually fades, there’s still a great deal you can do to help your puppy keep a clean and health mouth into adulthood.

First, you have to commit to maintaining your puppy’s dental health over the long term. This means being prepared for an annual visit to your veterinarian for a complete pet dental cleaning and oral health exam. Anesthesia free pet dental cleanings are NOT of any benefit to your dog and may cause further damage and periodontal disease in the long term, which in addition to being costly to treat, causes your dog a great deal of pain. Your dog has teeth just like you, so a regular visit to the dog dentist is as important as it is for it’s owners.

Second, you can implement regular home dental care for your puppy right away. Brushing your puppy’s teeth with a pet safe dental product is one of the best things you can do to help prevent plaque build up on their teeth. If you begin a puppy teeth brushing routine right away, not only will you be promoting their dental health, but you’ll get them used to their mouth being touched and examined so when they visit the vet dentist, they won’t be as afraid or anxious.

Third, there are a number of veterinary dental products that can assist in promoting good dental health for your puppy. As board certified veterinary dentists, we encourage the use of Veterinary Oral Health Council approved products. VOHC products include chews, water additives and dental diets that are proven to reduce plaque build up on a dogs teeth. Keep in mind that when you choose a chew toy or product for your puppy or even an adult dog, it should be bendable so they don’t break teeth. If you can’t bend it, they could easily fracture a tooth while chewing.

Promoting good puppy dental health through regular pet dental checkups at the veterinarian and providing regular care at home is the best way to keep your new puppy’s mouth clean and healthy. If you see something abnormal in your puppy’s mouth or are concerned about a more serious dental problem, it is a good idea to contact a board certified veterinary dentist who specializes in pet dental care and can offer the best treatment plan.

 

Safe Chew Toys for Pet’s Teeth

Safe dog cat chew toysDo you fill stockings and wrap presents for your four legged kids? Are your pets waiting for their presents to arrive under the tree? We know our dogs and cats love new chew toys and treats, so here are a few things that veterinary dentists want you to know about choosing pet toys this Christmas.

  • When selecting chew toys for dogs and cats choose items that you can bend. If a toy is so hard you can’t bend it, it will break pet teeth. There are toys that claim to promote better dental health for dogs, however that may not necessarily be the case. Many of these products are very hard and could cause gum damage or break your dog or cat’s teeth.
    Board certified veterinary dentists recommend pliable/bendable products like Kong toys. When used regularly, chewing on safe toys can be a benefit to a dog or cat’s dental health, although is never a replacement for regular veterinary dental care.
  • Bones may seem like the perfect present for your dog, however vet dentists don’t recommend them. Chewing on dried natural bones, bully sticks or regular rawhide might appear to mimic a dog’s inherent wild nature, however they really don’t. A wild animal tearing meat off of a carcass in the wild is very different than fido chewing on a hard bone. For our dogs, a bone might be a recipe for a trip to the vet dentist with broken teeth or severely damaged gums.
  • Look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal on treats claiming to improve pet dental health. The VOHC approves pet dental products based on their ability to reduce plaque and tarter build up on dog and cat teeth. Some products like Greenies may be available in pet stores or you can often purchase a variety of other products from your veterinarian.

Make holidays with your pets fun, happy and safe by giving them toys and treats that won’t cause them any harm. You should also be sure any table scraps you share don’t have any small bones and are given in moderation.

And, remember, if you haven’t scheduled your pet’s annual dental cleaning this year, give them the gift of a healthy and pain free mouth. Be sure when you schedule a cleaning that you are seeing a veterinary doctor who provides a comprehensive cleaning with vet dental radiology and do not take your pet in for an anesthesia free dental cleaning.

Annual Veterinary Dental Forum

The recent Veterinary Dental Forum was attended by veterinarians and veterinary technicians from around the world. Over 1000 individuals attended the three days of lectures and instructional labs on veterinary dentistry. The annual vet dental forum is an opportunity for our group of board certified veterinary dentists to come together and share with one another as well as provide education to the entire veterinary community, which ultimately impacts both oral and overall health of people’s pets.

Dr. Dale Kressin, of Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialists taught a lab about veterinary oral surgery and dental extraction techniques. Dr. Tony Woodward, Animal Dental Care, presented about Warm Gutta Percha Obturation Techniques and Vital Pulp Therapy. Dr. Brook Niemiec, Southern California Veterinary Specialties, presented on unusual feline oral pathology, surgical veterinary endodontics, dental emergencies and advanced periodontal treatment. Dr. Michael Peak, Tampa Bay Veterinary Dentistry, taught numerous labs on endodontics as well as a lab on veterinary dentin bonding and composite restorations.

Dr. Robert Boyd, Veterinary Dental Services, presented two hours of advanced lecture on veterinary endodontics and 2-four hour advanced lab sessions on veterinary endodontics. Lectures covered LightSpeed (LSX) Instruments that are used for root canal treatment in animals including dogs, cats and some zoo animals as well as the EndoVac a negative pressure irrigation system that is used in concert with LSX instruments to clean and disinfect an animals root canal system. These lab sessions were attended by veterinarians, veterinary dentists and residents who are learning advanced veterinary dental techniques. Dr. Boyd first introduced this innovative endodontic instrument system to veterianry dentists at the 16th Annual Veterinary Dental Forum. Since LightSpeed was first introduced many advances and changes have taken place in both the instruments and and their use. EndoVac is a relatively new irrigation system that compliments the LSX instruments to effectively treat endodontic disease in animals.

Dr. Curt Coffman of Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists presented instructional lectures on veterinary root canal treatment and crown restorations, and organized a hands-on lab with Dr. Robert Furman, of Southern California Veterinary Dental Specialties, teaching veterinarians the basics of metal crown restorations in dogs. Dr. P. Vall of Animal Dental Care also offered presentations on surgical extractions of maxilliary and mandibular molars as well as gingival physiology.

During the Awards presentation Dr. Visser as a past winner, presented the award for the 2012 Fellow of the Year. (Left to Right Dr. Brook Niemiec Dr. Randi Brannon, Dr. Ken Capron and Dr. Chris Visser )