Pet Dental Health

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” »

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.”

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.


Ella’s Malignant Oral Tumor

Ella nearly three years after surgery to remove malignant tumor.

Ella nearly three years after maxillectomy surgery to remove malignant tumor.

Ella was originally referred to Dr. Kressin of Animal Dentistry & Oral Surgery Specialists in December of 2010. She had been diagnosed with a malignant fibrosarcoma, an oral cancer, and was expected to live only 3-6 months.

A board certified veterinary dental specialist, Dr. Kressin takes great care in providing the best possible treatment plan for the pets with oral tumors requiring veterinary dental care. In Ella’s case, Dr. Kressin’s recommendation for major oral surgery was a success and today, almost three years later, Ella is living a happy, healthy life with her family. Dr. Kressin checked in with Ella’s owners recently and they are incredibly grateful for Dr. Kressin’s expertise and commitment that saved Ella’s life!

“I was referred to Dr. Kressin by a veterinary oncologist.   The diagnosis of an oral cancer, called fibrosarcoma, was devastating.  I love Ella, she’s an important part of my family, and I needed to understand if there were any treatment options.

Dr. Kressin explained what could be done, how it would affect Ella, and how it would benefit her.  He recommended a major oral surgery and other options.  I thought long and hard and decided to proceed with surgery and I’m very glad I did.

He performed a surgery called “Maxillectomy”.  He removed all of Ella’s teeth on the left side of her upper jaw and a major portion of the roof of the mouth.  Ella looks great and acts as though there was never a problem. It has been more than 2 ½ years since Dr. Kressin performed the surgery and Ella is living and doing very well.

Dr. Kressin takes the time to care.  He still calls me to ask how Ella is doing.  I absolutely would recommend him anytime.”

– Tim S.

Animal Dental Care - Treating Simon's Broken Teeth

Simon’s Broken Tooth

Animal Dental Care - Treating Simon's Broken Teeth

Simon’s fractured teeth were treated with a combination of extraction & root canal therapy.

Simon presented at Animal Dental Care in Colorado for an evaluation of a fractured right upper fourth premolar. Unfortunately the tooth was too badly damaged to be saved with a root canal and needed to be extracted. In photo 1 below you can see the dog’s upper fourth premolar which shows the fracture and damage to the tooth prior to extraction.

Digital veterinary dental radiographs revealed that several other teeth were fractured with dentin exposure. These teeth were smoothed and all areas of the exposed dentin were sealed with bonded resin. The left upper third incisor, shown in photos 2 and 3, was fractured with exposure of the pulp (nerve) chamber, which is very painful. Fortunately this tooth was a great candidate to be treated and saved with root canal therapy.

The only way to accurately assess whether a pet is a candidate for root canal therapy is with veterinary dental radiographs. X-rays provide a complete picture of the pet’s tooth, root, and bone structure. This will help decide whether a root canal or an extraction is the optimal treatment for the pet’s broken tooth. Root canal therapy involves one or two small holes drilled in the tooth and infected pulp is then removed. The inside of the tooth is cleaned and filled with material that will not support bacterial growth to eliminate infection. The last step is placing a filling on the tooth to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth. A crown may be recommended to strengthen the treated tooth.

Boomer Wisconsin Service Dog

Oral Health Matters for Service Dogs

Anyone who sees a service dog in action can’t help but be amazed by the abilities and skills these dogs demonstrate with their owners. Whether assisting law enforcement, guiding an owner safely across the street or being a valuable part of allowing more independance for someone with a medical condition, these dogs are truly phenomenal.

The valuable partnership service dogs provide their owners, makes the dogs health of the utmost concern. As veterinary dentists, we know well how vital a dog’s oral health is to its overall health, which is why each Veterinary Dentist listed with proudly participates in the Free National Service Dog Oral Health Exam program through the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC). Continue reading “Oral Health Matters for Service Dogs” »

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.