January 2015: Dental Disease
A Yorkshire Terrier named Patty, 12 years old, spayed female presented to me for a health check up with a complaint of bad breath (halitosis) and needed vaccinations. On physical exam most of the vitals signs were within normal limits with normal heart and lung sounds. Eyes and ears were healthy, and the little dog was a good weight for it’s breed. Temperature was normal and the abdomen palpated OK. When examining the mouth there was quite a surprise!
Poor Patty had very advanced dental disease, with severe gingivitis (gum inflammation and swelling), thick build-up of tartar on her teeth, and even some loose teeth were noted. It was imperative that Patty have a dental as soon as possible. She was vaccinated so that she could be admitted to the hospital for her procedure at a later date. ( Pets that are going into a hospital setting should always be current on their vaccinations when possible to protect them from diseases that might linger in the clinic and also so they will not leave disease organisms behind to expose other patients.) Due to financial restraints, the owner had to put off the dental until she was able to save up for it, so we awaited a chance to help Patty.
Pictures of Patty’s teeth while she was anesthetized prior to the dental scale, polish and extractions.
After her dental, during which she lost almost all of her teeth due to decay and loss of bone in the jaws holding the teeth in place, her mouth was no longer a source of disease and infection. When dogs and cats have a significant amount of tartar and plaque in their mouths, along with gingivitis, their internal organs are constantly being showered with bacteria, the main component of tartar. Diseases that can ensue include kidney failure, heart disease and failure, respiratory distress, liver failure and any other problems caused by bacteria in the blood stream. Because of this showering effect we routinely begin antibiotic therapy for the patients awaiting a dental prior to their procedure and have them remain on this therapy for several days afterward. Dogs and cats seem to do fine with few teeth, eating dry food easily, and are so much better off without the infection in their mouths. Of course, initially they are painful and we medicate them for a few days after the dental. Because of Patty’s age, in order to assure she was a good candidate for anesthesia she needed blood work in advance of the procedure. The blood chemistry values and the CBC were normal, so it was OK to anesthetize Patty without fear of causing harm with the lowering of blood pressure that accompanies gas anesthesia. She did great during anesthesia and recovered well from the dental. Her owners took her home to get used to her new clean mouth. Hopefully she will live a much longer life because of the removal of tartar and infected teeth from her otherwise healthy body.
Pictures of her extracted teeth, many of which simply fell out when the tartar was removed.