Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The cobbler's children have no shoes.

I brought my wonderful Golden Retriever, Montana, to work with me today because I knew the schedule was light, and I hoped to clean her teeth. She had some serious halitosis, which I figured was due to gingivitis from the tartar buildup.

Above the gumline, other than the tartar, I didn't see any problem teeth. However, as I was cleaning the second side, my probe fell under the gumline about 9 mm on one of her upper premolars. Normally you can only probe 2-3 mm or less. A little bit of pus oozed out after I removed the probe. An Xray revealed the extent of the problem:

The tooth in the middle (206) is the problem tooth. The tooth to the right is normal, and has bone that completely covers the roots, all the way down to the crown. On 206, there is a huge area of bone loss between the roots, especially on that root on the left side. On the actual Xray, you could see that it extends nearly to the root tip. That tooth is abcessed. It had to be extracted.

I felt bad that she had gone with this problem for so long without me noticing, but there really was nothing to see above the gumline. Even though she was under general anesthesia, I did a local nerve block, to block the pain receptors and so she would wake up numb and comfortable. After lifting a gingival flap, I cut the tooth in half and easily wiggled out the 2 roots. The soft tissue and bone around the tooth was pretty unhealthy. I filled the extraction sites with a synthetic bone graft and sewed the gingival flap shut. After a fluoride treatment and morphine shot, we woke her up.

Montana turns 10 years old later this month, and is such a good dog, we sometimes neglect her. I mean, we always feed her, and let her in from the backyard as soon as she barks, and I don't forget her heartworm and flea preventative. But she is so easy going, she doesn't need a lot of attention. We can leave the front door or back gates open and she won't leave. She only barks if someone rings the doorbell. She is very tolerant of the kids. She never missed a meal from dental pain. But I know "doggie breath" is not normal, and now I know why Montana had it.

Because I often find hidden dental problems and end up doing extractions that were not anticipated, my staff often jokingly accuses me of being bored and pulling out teeth for fun. You can bet they really let me have it for bringing my own dog in just so I would have something to do!

Montana is resting comfortably at home now and getting lots of TLC from all of us. She'll be getting soft food, antibiotics, pain relievers, and extra hugs and kisses for the next couple of weeks!


Emily said...

I know firsthand that you are an excellent vet, especially when it comes to the dental area. I'm still disappointed that my vet didn't see ANY problem with Sabrina's teeth, and yet you saw the issue immediately and x-rays showed two teeth almost completely gone from decay. She's doing great now, after her extractions, and although I know you enjoy what you do, I seriously doubt you find teeth to extract just for fun! Hope Montana recovers easily and completely.

Anonymous said...

Montana is such a sweet dog! She's always happy to see anyone who walks in the door. Yes, she is also very tolerant to the kids- especially Colin who will use her as a climbling mountain! =) -Bevie

messymama said...

I just love Montana. Since we lost Mabel it always makes me happy to hug Montana. She has the same kind of friendly, easy-going spirit as Mabel. I can't believe she is 10 years old! You guys are very lucky to have her. And she is so lucky to have such a great Vet/Mom.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I can hardly believe she's 10 also. Seems like maybe 5 years ago........
Poor thing must have had some pain from the decayed tooth.

Daddy said...

The last comment was mine and I didn't mean to be anon.
Glad Montana is relieved of the toothache and bad breath.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's amazing about Montana's teeth! And yes, she is a sweet, loving dog. I can only imagine what an X-ray would reveal about our Patchie's teeth. I just told your Dad this morning, she needs to have her teeth looked at by ou

EdamameMommy said...

In your defense, Montana eats cat sh*t.