Dr. Woodward’s Pet Dental Cases

Probe demonstrates wolf Drainage tract

Veterinary Dental X-Rays Determine Cause of Wolf’s Condition

wolf dental treatment

Dr. Woodward with McKinley, a gray wolf at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.

Board Certified Veterinary Dentist, Dr. Tony Woodward of Montana Pet Dentistry & Oral Surgery, traveled to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana to provide veterinary dental care to a gray wolf with chronic drainage under his right jaw.

This type of drainage can be a sign of a more severe infection and it was important the animal be examined to determine a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.



Upon Dr. Woodward’s initial oral examination the right tooth looked normal. However, in veterinary dentistry, radiographs are vital to get a more clear picture of what is happening below an animal’s gumline. In this case, the wolf’s tooth was dead and that there was a large area of root and bone damage around this tooth, which was the source of the drainage tract.

X-ray of Wolf Tooth Infection

Veterinary Dental Radiographs reveal bone and root damage.

Due to extensive damage, this tooth could not be treated with root canal therapy, and Dr. Woodward extracted the tooth. This wolf is now recovered and in much better overall health thanks to veterinary dental radiographs and the expert treatment of a board certified veterinary dentist.

veterinary dentist treats grizzly bear tooth

Veterinary Dentist Cares for Animals at Animal Sanctuary in Yellowstone

Dr. Tony Woodward, board certified veterinary dentist in Colorado and Montana, has a love of wildlife and often donates his time and expertise to treat painful veterinary dental disease and conditions. He recently went to Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, in West Yellowstone Montana to evaluate and treat some of the wolves and grizzly bears in need of dental care.

veterinary dentist treats grizzly bear tooth

Dr. Woodward examines broken grizzly bear tooth and prepares for extraction.

Roosevelt the Grizzly Bear

Upon examination, Dr. Woodward found that had a broken, infected upper incisor. The tooth required extraction, not only to alleviate a painful condition, but to prevent the infection from developing into severe periodontal disease which would further compromise the adjacent teeth and jaw structures.




Veterinary Dentist Treats Wolf Tooth Infection

Infection from dead tooth causes severe damage and drainage from wolf’s jaw.

McKinley the Gray Wolf

McKinley, needed a veterinary dental evaluation from Dr. Woodward to determine the cause of a chronic draining tract under the right side of his jaw. In all cases, a veterinary dentist utilizes veterinary dental radiographs to diagnose conditions and plan the appropriate treatment. In McKinley’s case the radiographs revealed a dead tooth, with a large area of root and bone damage that was the source of the drainage tract. The damage was so severe, the drainage was coming out under his lower jaw. This tooth was extracted, preventing further infection which was compromising the wolf’s health.


Learn more about Dr. Woodward’s veterinary dental practice and see more cases of successfully treating wildlife dental disease.

Veterinary Dentist Treats Zoo Animals

What does an Asian Sun Bear, Otter and Meerkat have in common? Other than the fact that they are all residents of the Pueblo Zoo, they all are susceptible to painful dental disease that can affect their overall health. This is why Dr. Woodward from Montana Pet Dentistry & Oral Surgery shares his time and skills with zoo animals in need of important oral health care.

Enjoy some of the interesting images below, documenting veterinary dental diagnosis and treatment.

Fractured Pet Tooth Treated with Root Canal Therapy & Crown

Fractured molar required root canal therapy for repair.

Fractured molar required root canal therapy for repair.

A five year old Malamute came to Animal Dental Care in Colorado for a slab fracture of her upper left carnassial (fourth pre-molar). The injury was most likely a result of chewing on something too hard and cracked a chunk off her tooth. As you can see, the fractured piece is still being held on by her gums. This type of pet tooth fracture is very painful and hard to see while the pet is awake, so the diagnosis required veterinary dental radiographs under anesthesia.

After discussing the diagnosis with the vet dentist, her owner elected to move forward with a root canal. so the tooth could be saved. The tooth was successfully treated with root canal therapy, however the pet continued to chew on things that were too hard for her teeth. Unfortunately the chewing resulted in the composite restoration, which protects the root canal surface, to break.


Repair of composite restoration.

Upon noticing the damaged tooth, her owner brought her in again to have the tooth evaluated and repaired. Due to the irritation caused by the new fracture, her gums were inflamed and irritated requiring the gums to be cut back to properly repair the tooth. After the fracture site was repaired, the composite restoration was smoothed and re-sealed. Finally, in light of the dogs propensity for chewing,  the doctor fitted the tooth for a stainless steel crown to minimize the risk of any further breakage.


Stainless steel crown to prevent future injury  to the tooth.

Retained Puppy Teeth

Retained Deciduous (Puppy) Teeth

Retained Puppy TeethRusty, an 8 month old Poodle who came to Animal Dental Care in Colorado for evaluation of six retained deciduous (puppy) teeth that included canines (fang) and incisors.

When puppy teeth do not fall normally, there can be a number of problems for the pet including, malocclusion (abnormal bite), pain and also periodontal disease. If left in place, the deciduous teeth can cause the permanent teeth to traumatically impact other teeth and/or soft tissues in the mouth, which is a source of significant pain. In addition, teeth that are in a malocclusion can frequently predispose a dog or cat to periodontal disease since they are not interlocking normally.

All six of Rusty’s teeth were extracted with a brief surgical procedure and he’ll recover fully and continue to grow with a happy, healthy and pain free mouth.

If you have a puppy or kitten and notice they seem to be retaining their baby teeth as the adult teeth are growing in, it is important to see a board certified veterinary dentist right away. The sooner this condition can be evaluated and treated, there is far less potential for developing a more complex dental problem.

Small Tooth Fracture Can Mean Big Infection for Pets

A different patient, with arrow pointing to the classic swelling below the eye that is sometimes seen with an abscessed tooth in this area.

A different patient, with arrow pointing to the classic swelling below the eye that is sometimes seen with an abscessed tooth in this area.

Even very small dental fractures can sometimes lead to severe infection inside the effected teeth. This dog presented to Dr. Tony Woodward at Animal Dental Care with a severely swollen face below the left eye. A detailed oral exam showed a very small fracture of the tip of the left upper fourth premolar. A dental X-ray of that tooth showed large areas of bone damage around the ends of the roots, especially the distal (back root). The small fracture had exposed dentin, which appears to be solid, but contains many microscopic fluid-filled tubules. Bacteria were able to migrate up through the dentin tubules, leading to severe infection inside the tooth. The infection then leaks out from the ends of the roots, causing damage to the roots and surrounding bone.

To avoid the trauma of extracting this large three-rooted tooth and to maintain chewing function, the owner elected to have the tooth treated with root canal therapy. Root canal therapy serves to clean out and disinfect the root canal system, which is the hollow space inside of the tooth. Once the root canal system is cleaned and disinfected, filling materials are placed inside the tooth to eliminate any potential hiding place for infection. Finally, durable composite restorations (fillings) are placed in the access sites used to clean out the tooth.

Because veterinary patients rarely show any signs of pain with dental disease, it is fortunate that this dog’s face swelled up. Otherwise the painful infection would have gone unnoticed. While veterinary patients rarely show any obvious signs of dental disease, when painful dental problems are identified and treated appropriately, most owners report that their pets are acting better after treatment than before. An important point to consider is that very few abscessed teeth in veterinary patients ever have any associated swelling or drainage. For this reason, all fractured teeth, even those with very small fractures, should have dental x-rays taken to determine what treatment is required. If the teeth appear to be dead or infected inside, they should either be treated with root canal therapy or extracted. If the teeth appear to be alive, the fractured areas may be treated with bonded resin sealants to improve patient comfort and decrease the chance of future infection.

Boxer with Gingival Hyperplasia

Enlarged and swollen gum tissue indicating condition known as gingival hyperplasia.

Gingival hyperplasia is a condition in which there is excessive growth and swelling of the gingival tissues that allows debris to be trapped more readily below the gumline. It is common in Boxers, but can be seen in any breed of dog.

Lilo is a six year old female Boxer who was recently adopted through a Boxer rescue. She was diagnosed by her referring veterinarian with severe generalized gingival hyperplasia, an extreme inflammatory enlargement of a dog’s gingival tissues that creates deep pockets between the teeth and surrounding tissues. These pockets provide the perfect environment for plaque to buildup and cause progressive periodontal disease. Due to the depth of the pockets it is impossible to provide any meaningful at-home dental care. In fact, a complete professional cleaning under anesthesia is not possible until the excessive gingival tissue is surgically removed with a procedure called a gingivectomy.

Lilo was seen at Animal Dental Care in Colorado for treatment of her disease. This initial procedure was a full mouth gingivectomy to remove the tissue utilizing an electrosurgery unit that cauterizes the tissues at the same time, which decreases bleeding. After the gingivectomy, her teeth were scaled with an ultrasonic scaler to remove plaque and calculus, then polished.

In addition, full mouth radiographs, in conjunction with a complete oral examination, revealed numerous infected and abscessed teeth. Due to the extensive amount of surgical and periodontal therapy that needs to take place, Lilo will need to have the remaining extractions and treatments performed in a second stage.

Gingival hyperplasia can be caused by periodontal disease and numerous different medications, such as anti-seizure drugs. Certain breeds are also predisposed with the Boxer being the most common. While Lilo’s gingival hyperplasia will likely recur over time, surgical treatment, regular veterinary dental cleanings and daily at-home dental care will delay this from happening.

If your dog shows signs of swollen and inflamed gums, evaluation by a board certified veterinary dentist is important to treat the condition before it progresses further.

Pet Periodontal Disease – How Bad Can it Really Be?

Severe periodontal disease in 9 year old dog.

Severe periodontal disease in 9 year old dog.

Veterinary dentists often talk about the risk of periodontal disease in pets and that it’s the most common condition affecting adult dogs and cats. But, pet owners often wonder how bad this really can be for their pets. This severe case of periodontal disease presented at Animal Dental Care in Colorado.

The patient was a nine year-old Boston Terrier with severe (end-stage) periodontal disease. The disease had progressed over the years as she’d not had any previous veterinary dental cleanings or oral care.

The pet’s family came for an evaluation due to their dog’s severe and worsening halitosis, or bad breath. Amazingly, she was still eating even in light of the disease and pain in her mouth.

Treatment of this level of periodontal disease in a pet’s mouth requires extraction of most teeth. Any remaining teeth must then be treated with aggressive periodontal therapy in order to save them.

When it comes to periodontal disease, the truth is it can cause extensive damage to your pet’s teeth and entire oral cavity, not to mention, far more costly than the cost of annual veterinary dental cleanings.

Splint on cat with jaw fracture

Treating Kiki’s Jaw Fracture. She’s One Tough Cat!

Splint on cat with jaw fractureKiki is a four year old female cat who was hit by a car. After the accident, she was immediately taken to an emergency clinic by her owners and diagnosed with a right caudal mandibular fracture involving the right TMJ joint, a mandibular symphyseal fracture and zygomatic fracture.  Her right eye was also proptosed. The emergency clinic treated her aggressively for shock and head trauma. After she was stabilized her right eye was surgically removed due to the trauma. She was not visual through her left eye, but there was still hope that she would regain vision over time in this eye. She remained hospitalized in the emergency clinic over that weekend and became severely anemic. After two blood transfusions her red blood cell count stabilized.

The following Monday Kiki was transferred to Animal Dental Care. In addition to the fractures diagnosed by the emergency clinic, she also had complicated crown fractures of the right maxillary and mandibular canine teeth. The mandibular symphyseal fracture was stabilized with a 24 g cerclage wire. The caudal mandibular fracture was stabilized by performing interarcade bonding with acrylic material. An esophageal feeding tube was placed to provide post-operative nutrition and hydration. The owners were instructed on how to feed Kiki through this tube at home. It was planned to treat canine tooth fractures with either root canal therapy or extractions when the splint was removed.

A few days after discharge an examination was performed by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist who determined that Kiki still had some vision through her right eye although it likely had permanent damage.

Two weeks post-op she had her feeding tube removed since she had learned to lap up food and water on her own around the interarcade bonds.

Four weeks post-op Kiki had her interarcade bonds and cerclage wire removed.  Her jaw fractures had stabilized. Unfortunately, her owners could not afford root canal treatment on her fractured canine teeth, so these were extracted.

Despite the extensive trauma Kiki experienced, she made an excellent recovery. Her owners have agreed to keep her indoors and she is learning to get around their home very well, even with limited vision from her remaining eye. She is a definite fighter!

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.