Pet Dental Health


Cats Have Teeth Too!

Today we present two cases of cats, Lexi and Fellix, who were treated for broken canines at Veterinary Dental Specialties and Oral Surgery. Fractured teeth are typically a dog issue, but cats do break teeth as well.  In general, the canines are the most common tooth that is broken in cats.  One major difference for cats is that their root canal extends very close to the tip of the tooth.  This means that almost any fracture will cause direct root canal (nerve) exposure.

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Minnie the Cat

Treating Previously Unsuccessful Cat Jaw Fracture Repair

Minnie came to us after having had surgical care for injuries she previously sustained in a coyote attack.  She was originally treated at an outside surgical practice where the mandible (lower jaw) was fixed with a bone plate. Unfortunately, the occlusion (alignment) was off and which was causing pain and she would not eat. Another practitioner then extracted most of her teeth to alleviate the trauma and hopefully result in cessation of the clinical signs.  Sadly, both of these significantly invasive surgeries did not resolve the issue and she was still not eating. Continue reading “Treating Previously Unsuccessful Cat Jaw Fracture Repair” »

Treating Advanced Periodontal Disease in Dog with Heart Conditions & High Anesthesia Risk

Lucy, a sweet older dog, has had advanced periodontal disease for a long time.  The clients were well aware of the severity and how it was negatively affecting her health.  However, she also has a pretty significant heart problem.  This was so severe that her family vet was not willing to take a chance on putting her under anesthesia to take care of her teeth.  Sadly, the infection progressed to the point where her pet parent could tell she wasn’t feeling well. Continue reading “Treating Advanced Periodontal Disease in Dog with Heart Conditions & High Anesthesia Risk” »

The endodontic systems have now been completely cleaned and filled. This result will allow for complete healing as well as pain and infection free teeth.

All Root Canals are Not Created (or Performed) Equally.

Broken teeth are a very common problem in dogs, and in fact it has been shown that fully 10 percent of dog have a tooth with direct pulp (or nerve) exposure. Therefore, many pets are in need of treatment for this painful malady.  The only options for therapy of a fractured tooth are root canal therapy and extraction.  Veterinary Dentists generally prefer saving teeth via root canal therapy, especially strategic teeth like canines.

Root canals preserve the function of the tooth as well as avoid a painful extraction procedure.  Canine teeth have huge roots (Figure 1) and the extraction requires a large incision as well as drilling away jaw bone.  In addition, extraction has numerous potential complications including incision line breakdown and in cases of lower teeth extraction, jaw fracture.

Figure 1: Image of an extracted canine and fourth premolar from a large breed dog demonstrating the size.

Figure 1: Image of an extracted canine and fourth premolar from a large breed dog demonstrating the size.

These facts make saving these important teeth via root canal procedures the best option.  However, it is important to note that root canals must be properly performed for them to be successful.  Unfortunately, they are a not an easy procedure, and many clinics offering this service have not been properly trained.  Finally, since pets rarely show signs of oral pain, poorly performed and/or painful root canals, will not generally be appreciated by the owner.

In this case, root canals were performed on a police dog, which were rechecked at veterinary dental specialties and oral surgery.  There were no outward clinical signs of failure, however the dental radiographs revealed that the procedure was done very poorly. (Figures 2 and 3).

Recheck intraoral dental images of the left (2) and right (3) maxillary canine. In figure 2, it is obvious that the gutta percha point is way to small to fill the canal. In figure 3, the canal is only filled in the coronal half, leaving the most important apical ½ completely unfilled. In both cases (but especially the right side) there was periapical rarefaction associated with the tooth (red arrows).

Recheck intraoral dental images of the left (2) and right (3) maxillary canine. In figure 2, it is obvious that the gutta percha point is way to small to fill the canal.

In figure 3, the canal is only filled in the coronal half, leaving the most important apical ½ completely unfilled. In both cases (but especially the right side) there was periapical rarefaction associated with the tooth (red arrows).

In figure 3, the canal is only filled in the coronal half, leaving the most important apical ½ completely unfilled. In both cases (but especially the right side) there was periapical rarefaction associated with the tooth (red arrows).

Southern California Veterinary Dental Specialties & Oral Surgery had to redo the procedures, (Figures 4 and 5) which is more difficult and time consuming to perform.  Therefore, it is important to select only well-trained veterinary dentists for this procedure.

Post-op dental radiographs of the teeth after they had been properly endodontically treated.

Post-op dental radiographs of the teeth after they had been properly endodontically treated.

The endodontic systems have now been completely cleaned and filled. This result will allow for complete healing as well as pain and infection free teeth.

The endodontic systems have now been completely cleaned and filled. This result will allow for complete healing as well as pain and infection free teeth.

If your pet has a broken tooth, it is important to ensure that they are being treated by the very best board certified veterinary dentists. Find a board certified veterinary dentist.

Older Pet

Is My Pet Too Old for Anesthesia?

Owners of aging dogs and cats are often hesitant about allowing their pet to be put under anesthesia for a dental cleaning or other procedure. There is a fear that the pet is too old and not able to handle the anesthesia, but this is really not the case at all. As with humans, old age isn’t a disease and when using the proper anesthetic dosages and protocols, anesthesia is quite safe for an older pet — just as it’s safe for an older person. Continue reading “Is My Pet Too Old for Anesthesia?” »

Fractured Jaw in French Bulldog Puppy

This is Isabelle, a three-month-old French Bulldog puppy who suffered a broken jaw after being bit by a housemate. She was in significant oral pain and had moderate bleeding upon presentation.  She was referred to Veterinary Dental Specialties and Oral Surgery.  She was diagnosed the fracture and  scheduled for immediate surgery.

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Fractured Jaw Repair in Small Dog

This is Sugar who suffered a broken jaw due to advanced periodontal disease. She had been seen at her family vet after being involved in a dog fight.  He had sedated Sugar to fully evaluate the fracture and had extracted the very loose molar in the area. Once he realized the jaw was fractured, he referred her to Veterinary Dental Specialties and Oral Surgery for care.

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Labrador Retriever Tooth Extraction

A 7-year-old Labrador was referred in for a recurrent swelling under the left eye. The swelling responded temporarily to antibiotics, but would return a short time later.  The referring veterinarian did not notice anything that was obvious for a dental problem since both maxillary canines were externally periodontally healthy and only had uncomplicated crown fractures. Continue reading “Labrador Retriever Tooth Extraction” »

German Shepherd Composite Tooth Restoration

Penny is a 5 year old German Shepherd that was kicked in the face by a horse.  Aside from damage to several teeth, she sustained no other injuries.  Penny was anesthetized and a thorough oral exam revealed that she had several fractured incisors with pulp exposure and an enamel fracture to the left maxillary canine (204). Continue reading “German Shepherd Composite Tooth Restoration” »

The Importance of Regular Pet Dental Cleanings

We all understand the value of regular dental cleanings for ourselves. As a matter of fact, we generally go every six months regardless of our oral health. In addition, annual physical exams and laboratory exams are recommended for both humans and veterinary patients. This is all a function of current best practice which is “preventative medicine”. This type of care is ubiquitous in all forms of health practice, except veterinary dentistry, where we wait for disease to be present and then we treat it.  Continue reading “The Importance of Regular Pet Dental Cleanings” »