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?” »
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 www.yorkierescue.com.
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.”
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.
Pet owners are often unaware that in some cases they have the option to choose veterinary endodontic treatment (root canal) as opposed to an extraction of a broken or dead tooth. This may sound strange and not necessary for a pet, but there are some things you might want to consider before opting to have a dog or cat’s tooth extracted without further evaluation from a veterinary dental specialist.
- Some teeth are more important including the pre-molars, back molars and canine teeth. Pre-molars and molars are very deeply rooted and extraction is painful as the roots must be extracted from the bone. The canine teeth are also extremely important and extraction of these may compromise the jaw bone or weaken nasal structure.
- Teeth are vital in your pet’s ability to chew effectively. When important chewing teeth are extracted the teeth don’t work together for both chewing and cleansing, which significantly increases the chances for future periodontal disease.
- Certain upper canine extractions may lead to the lip folding over the gum line, which in turn may be traumatized by the lower teeth hitting the lip while chewing.
- Certain teeth may have an abnormal root structure (dilaceration). This makes an extraction very difficult with potential complications from root fracture, inability to remove root tips, bone fracture and excessive bleeding.
- Excessive bleeding, root fracture, jaw fracture and lip trapping are all possible complications of extraction, especially for certain deep rooted teeth.
What does a root canal on a dog or cat involve? In short, one to two small holes are drilled in the tooth, infected pulp (nerves and vessels within the tooth) is removed, the inside of the tooth is cleaned, and filled with material that won’t support bacterial growth (infection). The final step is the placement of a filling to prevent bacteria from entering the treated tooth. Following the root canal, a crown may be recommended to strengthen the treated tooth.
Pet root canals are not always recommended and there are certainly cases where an extraction is the optimal treatment for a particular dog’s or cat’s tooth. However, the only way to adequately assess the dead or broken tooth is with dental radiographs (x-rays). This provides a complete picture of both the tooth as well as the root and bone structure. Without an x-ray, a veterinarian would have no idea what lies below the tooth and to proceed with an extraction leaves the door open for numerous complications and costs to the pet owner.
Expense is always a consideration, however, a root canal may not be much more cost than a surgical extraction of a tooth particularly in the case of larger teeth or those with complicated root structures. In addition, preservation of your pet’s tooth may prevent costs related to future periodontal disease or bone loss. A veterinary dentist will be able to provide you a thorough exam and detailed treatment plan with explanation of costs involved.
Root canal treatments are very successful and many times a far better solution than an extraction, which can be painful to the pet and involve significant bone loss. Board certified veterinary dentists have performed thousands of root canals on dogs, cats and even exotic animals. You can count on knowing that they will provide an accurate assessment and discuss your pet’s individual situation and whether saving the tooth with root canal therapy is an option.
Ask your local board certified veterinary dentist about root canal options for your dog or cat:
During the month of August our group of Board Certified Veterinary Dentists was proud to provide free oral health exams to service dogs through a program sponsored by the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC). Through this program service dogs received oral health exams to help identify any areas of painful oral disease and the dog owners were given important information regarding proper oral care and education for preventing oral disease and keeping their service dog’s mouth healthy and pain free.
Service dogs work in a variety of areas as partners to owners who may have medical disabilities as well as working in public service providing important and unique services to military, police and search and rescue organizations. It is vital that these dogs are in top health and don’t have painful oral disease that not only is uncomfortable, but also could impact their ability to serve their owners.
In Wisconsin, Dr. Dale Kressin works with police officer Eric and his partner Boomer. Boomer did a demonstration for an event and as you can see, his mouth needs to be in the best condition for him to perform his job. Boomer has had multiple teeth treated for fractures which have kept him pain free and in top condition.
Dr. Tony Woodward provided a number of exams at his office in Colorado and in addition to recommending the routine oral care owners should talk with their regular veterinarians about, he was also able to teach them how to provide preventative care at home and things to watch for that could be their service dog may need to be seen at by a vet dentist.
Dr. Woodward also had the pleasure of giving TJ, a Colorado Springs Police Dog a clean bill of oral health after his exam. TJ was the only service dog who passed his oral health exam with flying colors and thanks to excellent care by TJ’s partner, had no signs of dental disease.
A hearing dog named Rugby visited Dr. Brook Niemiec in San Diego. In addition to the exam, Dr. Niemiec used Orastrip test strips to test the level of dental disease in Rugby’s mouth. The strips are not a replacement for a dental exam, but measure the level of bacteria that can cause periodontal disease in the dog’s mouth. Rugby’s teeth looked good and also had a low level of bacteria on the orastrip test which gave his owners peace of mind.
This is Zoe, a service dog who provides pet therapy to hospice patients. Dr. Chris Visser provided Zoe’s free exam among others to a variety of service dogs in Arizona. Dr. Michael Peak also provided free exams to a number of Florida service dogs.
It’s really amazing the work these dogs are trained to provide and as veterinary dental specialists, we want to be sure their owners are aware of the importance of maintaining the dog’s oral and dental health.
Dog’s teeth can break for a variety of reasons, often from chewing on a bone or toy that’s too hard. Broken dog teeth are not uncommon, so in addition to regularly brushing dog’s teeth, dog owners should also check for any visible signs of a tooth that’s broken. Broken teeth are very painful for dogs. Although an owner might never realize their dog is in severe pain, as dogs rarely demonstrate pain.
If a dog has a broken tooth there are definately options to repair it and relieve the pain your dog is experiencing due to the fractured tooth and potentially exposed pulp or dentin. The first step in treating a fractured dog’s tooth is to perform dental radiographs or x-rays, which will identify the extent of the fracture and allow the veterinary dentist to determine the proper treatment. Treatment for a dog’s fractured tooth may involve sealing, root canal therapy or extraction.
Visiting a board certified veterinary dentist for a dog’s fractured tooth will assure you and your dog that they are recieving the best possible evaluation and treatment so the fracture can be properly repaired and your pet’s pain will be relieved.
Learn more about pet tooth fractures from a veterinary dentist near you:
- Dr. Michael Peak, DVM, AVDC – Tampa Bay Veterinary Dentistry, Florida
- Dr. Thomas P. Chamberlain, DVM, AVDC – Animal Dentistry & Oral Surgery, Virginia
- Dr. Tony Woodward, DVM, AVDC – Animal Dental Care, Colorado
- Dr. Chris Visser, DVM, AVDC – Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists, Arizona
- Dr. Robert Boyd, DVM, AVDC – Veterinary Dental Services, Texas
- Dr. Dale Kressin, DVM, AVDC – Animal Dentistry & Oral Surgery Specialists, Wisconsin
- Dr. Brook Niemiec, DVM, AVDC – Southern California Veterinary Dental Specialties, California
- Dr. Allen Matson, DVM, AVDC – Eastside Veterinary Dentistry, Washington