Dr. Matson’s Pet Dental Cases

Jaguar Root Canal

Jaguar Gets Root CanalJunior, a 16 year old male jaguar at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle was noted to have a broken right maxillary canine tooth.  In the wilde, the maxillary canine tooth is important for the jaguar to be able to grab and hold prey. Although Junior does not have to catch his dinner, this tooth is still important for him and his health.

Dr. Matson, a board certified veterinary dentist at Eastside Veterinary Dentistry in the Seattle area was consulted for the best treatment for Junior’s tooth. Examination of the tooth showed that although part of the tooth was missing, the rest of the tooth could be saved through root canal therapy.

Jaguar Root Canal - Dr. Matson

On the initial visit, the inside of Junior’s tooth was instrumented and disinfected. In addition, since the fracture was new, there was some persistent bleeding at the tip of the canal. Dr Matson placed a medicament called calcium hydroxide to cauterize the vessels and placed a temporary restoration.

Jaguar Root Canal at Woodland Park Zoo

On the second visit, three months later, Junior’s tooth was re-treated with removal of the calcium hydroxide and a permanent filling was placed in the canal.  The opening in the tooth was restored with a permanent restoration.

Junior recovered well and is very happy to have all of his teeth!

Adopted Chihuahua Gets Veterinary Dental Care for Painful Dental Condition

Cori is a five year old male Chihuahua that was adopted from a rescue group. It was immediately apparent that Cori has an upper jaw that is significantly shorter than his lower jaw. However, this was the least of his dental problems.


This is Cori sitting below his picture on the wall taken before his dental work. You can see by his facial expression how much pain he was in previously and how well he feels now!

When Cori’s owner brought him to Dr. Allen Matson at Eastside Veterinary Dentistry for a complete veterinary dental exam, Dr. Matson found Cori had severe periodontal disease with heavy accumulations of plaque and calculus. In addition, many of his teeth had root exposure and were mobile. The periodontal disease was causing Cori a lot of pain in his mouth, and choosing a veterinary dentist was the absolute correct choice of care. Cori’s teeth were cleaned and full mouth x-rays were taken. A total of 17 teeth were extracted and periodontal therapy was performed on many of the remaining teeth.

Cori’s owner is extremely pleased with his response to the comprehensive veterinary dental treatment. Cori now eats dry food without pain for the first time in his life, not to mention delicious, soft chew sticks. As part of an ongoing home-care plan, Cori’s owner brushes his teeth regularly and states he loves having his teeth brushed!


Dog with periodontal disease

Periodontal Disease in Dogs & Cats

Periodontal disease is a condition that can affect all ages of dogs and cats. It is estimated that up to 80 percent of dogs and cats have some degree of periodontal disease. However, the older the animal is the more severe the periodontal disease is likely to be.

To add to the already high risk of periodontal disease in pets, anesthesia free dental cleanings are being touted as a way to clean a dog or cat’s teeth without using anesthesia.  The problem with this approach is that it is impossible to properly assess and clean all aspects of the teeth, especially on the inside of teeth and below the gum line.  This does not allow the disease to be properly diagnosed and treated.

Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Dog with periodontal disease

The roots of the dog’s teeth are exposed and are mobile.

A 13 year old Labrador retriever mix presented at Eastside Veterinary Dentistry in Washington for an oral evaluation.  This picture is of the upper (maxillary) incisor teeth.  The roots are exposed and the teeth are mobile.  Due to the extent of periodontal disease, this patient required extraction of 50 percent of his teeth.  The veterinarian that initially examined this dog recommended that an anesthesia free dental cleaning be performed.  Although this is an extreme example, it highlights the problem with acceptance of anesthesia free dental cleanings that are being promoted among the veterinarian and pet owning community.


Periodontal Disease in Cats

Perio cat June 23 2014bPeriodontal disease in cats can occur at a young age with severe manifestations. This three year old cat had never had a dental cleaning and not had any at home tooth brushing.

In general, a three year old cat, even without any dental care is unlikely to have this severe of a presentation.  However, sometimes it is not possible to determine which cat will develop severe periodontal disease and which will not.  As a result, it is important to acclimatize our cats to tooth brushing as a kitten so that this type of disease may be prevented. Unfortunately for this patient, all of his teeth were extracted.

Dental recommendations for cats are dogs are to brush the teeth daily and have yearly veterinary dental cleanings performed with anesthesia, complete oral examination and obtaining full mouth veterinary dental radiographs.

If it’s time for your pet’s cleaning or you’re concerned about a dental condition or disease, find a veterinary dentist near you.

Treating Cat’s Cleft Palate

Morty - Cat who had a cleft palateMorty is a six year old male domestic short hair cat who showed up at his owner’s door four years ago as a stray.  Because Morty was a stray, the owner does not have any information of health concerns in the past.  When his Morty’s new owner adopted him, she noticed that he would sneeze a lot and food was getting stuck in the roof of his mouth.  His regular veterinarian diagnosed a defect in his hard palate and referred him to Eastside Veterinary Dentistry for surgical correction.

Examination demonstrated that there was a cleft palate on the left side of the hard palate.  There was food packed through the opening into the nasal passage.  Over the last two years the owner has been dealing with this by trying to irrigate the food out of the cleft in his hard palate.  Understandably this was not a procedure that Morty enjoyed!

Below are details and photos of how Dr. Matson treated Morty’s cleft palate:

  1. The first step of the procedure was to extract all the teeth on the left side where the cleft was present.  This allows for the tissue to heal in preparation for closure of the cleft.
  2. 5 weeks after the extractions were done, Morty returned for closure of the defect. (Picture 1)
  3. The gingiva has healed and is ready for surgery. The mucosa from the inner lip was elevated and brought over to cover the defect. (Picture 2)
  4. The tissue was sutured in place and an Elizabethan collar placed to keep Morty from rubbing his face. (Picture 3)
  5. At two week recheck, the surgery site has healed with complete closure of the cleft.  (Picture 4)

Now Morty is able to eat without food building up in his nose!

Oral Masses in Dogs and Cats

Growths can occur in the mouths of dogs and cats.  Growths (or masses) can be benign, locally aggressive but don’t spread to other parts of the body or they can be malignant. To determine what the nature of the mass is, obtaining a sample from the mass and sending it to a lab to have it evaluated is critical to determine how to treat the mass.  An aggressive mass may require a large surgical resection of the site of the mass.  A benign mass may only require removal of the mass itself without any surrounding tissue. If your pet has an oral mass of any kind, it’s important to have it evaluated by a veterinary dentist as soon as possible so it can be diagnosed and treated early if necessary.

Oral mass in a 10 year old dog.

Oral mass in a 10 year old dog.

Recently a dog with an oral mass was seen by Dr. Allen Matson at Eastside Veterinary Dentistry. The picture shows the mass, which was located just behind the maxillary canine tooth on the right side.  When looking at the mass, there’s no way to tell if it is benign or malignant, which is why it’s necessary to remove the mass as well as sample the tissue to determine the nature of the mass. In this case the mass was excised and submitted for microscopic evaluation. The result was benign gingival hyperplasia, which can be common in older dogs and certain breeds of dogs.

With this information, this dog’s owner was told that monitoring the area for regrowth is all that is indicated at this time.  If the growth recurs, simple removal may be all that is necessary.  At the extreme, extraction of the canine tooth associated with the mass and closure would be curative.  However, in this case, the dog is 10 years old and additional treatment may not ever be needed.

This is also why it is important your pet has a complete veterinary dental cleaning and oral evaluation yearly. Often masses are in a location that an owner may not notice, but we can identify during the oral evaluation.