Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Swollen Tooth

That's what my appointment book said. Swollen tooth. Ha, ha.
Teeth don't get swollen, gums do. Was the tooth exploding? I chuckled to myself, thinking either the client or the receptionist got it wrong.

Then I met the cat. And saw this in her mouth:

Poor kitty. Her tooth was swollen. She had a huge resorbtive lesion on her upper fang. Its a process in which the tooth starts to destroy itself from within, eating through enamel and dentin until the sensitive nerve pulp is exposed. The root of the tooth is replaced with bone. No one knows why this sometimes happens to a tooth. It occurs in people, but not nearly as frequently as it does in cats. We do know it is extremely painful.

If nothing was done, eventually enough architecture would be lost that the crown of the tooth would fall off. Then the remaining root complete its resorbtion, like a ship sinking beneath the sea after a cannon volley. But who knows how long that would take? I aim to end animal suffering, and I am sure this cat woke up in less pain than she was before dental surgery. I "amputated" the crown of this tooth then covered the area with a sliding gum flap. It will heal within days.

Usually the lesions don't get this big. Normally its a small spot we find at the gumline. Regardless, there is nothing to stop the process. The only treatment is extraction, or amputation in advanced cases. Elsewhere in her mouth I extracted another, less affected small molar, and amputated two premolars.

The client was relieved. I showed her the Xray, which revealed how far gone the tooth really was. "That is so cool!" she said. Most people say "gross," or "I don't really see anything." I think missed her calling for a career in medicine!


Emily said...

Aw, that's what you did for my Sabrina, too, except it was her lower fang. (Would she be considered your niece-cat?)

I think it's cool, too. I still have the before and after x-rays you gave me.

get2eric said...

Good post.
At first glance I wondered why the cat's eye was wide open. After a closer look I saw it was her nostril not her eye.