Teeth Troubles – The Hidden Pain
Dental disease really hurts, but our pets often can’t tell us, in ways we understand, that their mouth is really sore.
Often we don’t know they are hurting
A dog or a cat will always keep eating, even with sore teeth. If you think about it, we do this too. We use the other side of our mouth to chew, or take pain killers to numb the pain so that we can get food and drink in. The difference between our animal friends and us is that we know that a visit to the dentist will probably fix the problem and book an appointment the very same day (or try to put it off as long as possible, but still know we need to go see the dentist!).
Take Oscar for instance.
An 11 year old poodle that came in to us for an annual health check and vaccination. Oscar had cracked a tooth 3 years previously and a filling had been done. He had been very well since that time and his owner had not noticed any problems they felt they needed to discuss at his routine check.
When his mouth was checked, there was a lot of dark brown tartar coating the teeth, making it impossible to actually see the them. He also had bad breath. A dental scale was recommended to remove the tartar and examine his teeth more comprehensively.
Under general anaesthesia the tartar was removed with an ultrasonic scaler and, Oscar’s teeth were examined and their roots were probed gently looking for problems. The filling on his large molar tooth was in place, and the crown of the tooth looked healthy. Since most of the tooth is under the gum or in the bone, an xray was taken to make sure that the tooth was still viable.
You can see the circular hole in the top of the tooth where the filling was sitting. The crown wasn’t fractured, but there was an abscess developing around root (the bone is “fluffy” in appearance and darker than the bone around the other teeth. It looks like it has been eaten away).
This tooth was beyond repair and was removed after carefully sectioning it into it’s three component roots and then a gum flap was sutured over the area to close all of the space where the roots used to be. A local anaesthetic block was used for pain control as well.
Some antibiotics were prescribed to clear up any residual infection and Oscar was sent home after recovering uneventfully from his anaesthetic.
A New Dog
3 days later, Oscar returned for a check and his owner reported that Oscar seemed happier than he had been for a while. This is a really common occurrence after a dental procedure. The pain is gone and they feel really good again! On reflection Oscar’s owners said that he had been ever so slightly “not quite right” for a few months before the visit to the vet.
There are a lot more dogs out their with pain in their mouths we don’t know about.
What can you do about it? Well, our nurses are always happy to check your pet’s teeth. This is a complimentary (it is free) service for our patients. Why not make an appointment to pop in during our “nursing clinic” that runs Monday to Friday in the mornings. If a problem is found the nurse will present some options to resolve it. This might be as simple as more chewing, brushing your pets’ teeth, dental cleaning under anaesthesia, or that a veterinarian needs to consult on the dental issues and formulate a comprehensive preventative plan.