Thursday, May 31, 2007

I do love veterinary dentistry (not for the squeamish)

This morning one of my drop-offs was a new client cat who'd been to the emergency clinic the night before with a swollen face. She was 17 years old and hadn't had any medical care for at least 10 years.

Most vets know swollen face = abcessed tooth. Well, most of the time; you could have an infected bite wound or a surprise tumor, but they don't usually swell overnight. When the tips of the upper teeth abcess with pus, the quickest way for the body to get it out is with a fistula right under the eye. It's gross but true.

I examined her mouth. A pretty large amount of tartar was accumulated on her teeth but I didn't see anything broken. Then I touched the fang, and it wobbled. Pus oozed out from under the gumline, and her nose bled a little. Hey, this veterinary medicine thing is cool but it is not for the faint of heart!

I called the owner with an estimate, and reluctantly told her my colleague would do the procedure later that morning. She only had 2 dentals scheduled whereas I had a morning full of appointments.

As it turned out, her two simple dentals ended up needed 2 major molar extractions EACH. By the end of the morning, she was rightfully fatigued. I told her fahgettabowdit, I'll do the dental myself. I had wanted to do it anyway.

It was a humdinger of a dental. The initial Xray showed the fang was abcessed down to the tip along with the tiny premolar behind it. Both of them had no bone around them anymore, just a little pool of pus. Then I noticed the other fang was mobile, too. I got to pull not one but three teeth.

I know it's gross, but it is so satisfying to me to make such a difference in this poor cat's life. Here she was with a face so swollen she couldn't even open her eye. I can't imagine the pressure or the pain she was feeling. Like most tough animals, she was eating and acting normally. It's only people who complain to their dentists that they can't eat. After I wiggled her tooth on exam, her face got more swollen, but after the extractions, her face quickly got better. The remaining gum tissue was not very healthy, so after I debrided it and placed a synthetic bone graft, I made some fancy flaps to close the defect.

It was well worth giving up my lunch hour for. I was looking for an excuse not to go swimming anyway. And, I still had enough time to go get myself a Latte.


Laura said...

Ooh, sounds like you had a interesting day! Stories like that are why we brush our dogs' teeth. Poor Max though, she'll be 13 in July and has never seen a toothbrush. Cats are just harder, in some ways. Thankfully, they're easier in others!

Lisa said...

Gross, but fascinating.
That cat feels so much better now!

And you got your coffee. Excellent.

Emily said...

Wow, you're so cool. I'm a big fan.

get2eric said...

I see you have your priorities straight- flip off the exercise and get a latte.
Interesting stuff animal dentistry.
By the way, Claritin seems to be helping The Patch scratch for since I started 1/4 pill per day 4 days ago, I only seen her scratch wunst. And prior to meds she was doing it 10 times a day. The twins take turns in administering the daily dose in a wad of cheddar.

EdamameMommy said...

...and by wad of cheddar he means pea-sized amount.

Wish this dental story had pictures! I mean, might as well show the grossness in all it's glory, and I would have liked to have seen your fancy flaps. ;) Sounds like a great service you did for that cat.

ColeBugsmommy said...

I'm always amazed how stoic animal are. If I have a tooth ache I can't eat or sleep. Great job as always!