Severe dental problems are not always obvious.

Tommy_broketooth_2 This is Tommy.  He came in to get a skin problem checked out.  Since a skin problem is sometimes just "the part you can see" of a whole-body problem, we always do a complete physical examination.  In checking Tommy’s teeth, I found that his left upper cheek tooth was the wrong shape, covered with tartar, and loose.  "Well, you know, he hasn’t wanted hard food for quite a while.  He will only eat soft food.  He doesn’t act like he’s in pain, though.  He still jumps and plays."   Gee, I think that if he’s got a broken tooth wiggling around in his mouth, it probably does hurt.  Why don’t we take care of that, and clean up the rest of them while we’re at it? "Well…yeah!"  So we did.

Two_teeth_side2 The little chunk on the left is what I was wiggling around during the exam.  It came out easily, didn’t even leave much of a hole (though we did stitch it closed).  The tooth on the right was more of surprise.  When we cleaned off all the tartar that was covering it up, it just didn’t look right.  It looked like…half a tooth.  What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?  That’s right: finding half a worm in your apple.

Tooth_split_2 Here’s a different view.  You can see the split surface with the open pulp cavity.  Ouch!  Isn’t it amazing that "the cat doesn’t act like he’s in pain"?  For a moment, imagine yourself biting down on something that splits a molar tooth in half, leaving the open pulp exposed.  Imagine not being able to do anything about it for months.  You don’t even want to imagine it, do you?  Now, imagine yourself pretending that… it doesn’t hurt!  Good luck with that.

So now those teeth are out, the socket is filled with Consil synthetic bone graft, and the holes are sewn shut, and lots of nice pain medicine has gone home with Tommy.  I’m looking forward to hearing about his return to eating whatever he wants, and to the surprising improvement in his behavior (the kind you get when constant pain goes away, as in a previous post).

3 thoughts on “Severe dental problems are not always obvious.

  1. Allison says:

    Recently my 14 year old Lab had 5 teeth extracted, at the time, we thought he only had one broken one–the big one he uses for chewing. We opted to try and save it (root canal if needed). Thankfully no root canal was needed. This poor dog must have been in pain!!! The next day, it was as if we had a puppy again. He is as happy as can be. Amazing what dental care will do! Now if only we had brushed his teeth to begin with–we might have spared ourselves the cost (he had to go to a specialist due to a heart murmur–$2500 for the whole shebang).

  2. Doc says:

    Hello, Allison,
    Thanks for sharing your story. Sorry it took such big bucks for your buddy to get straightened out. It always makes me feel great to hear somebody say, “I have my dog back.”

    Thanks for reading and writing.

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