Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Carnassial Teeth

One of the most common things we see in dogs is a carnassial tooth root abscess.
It has a pretty classic presentation in most, but not all, cases -  of a swelling just below the eye and sometimes drainage of pus at the gumline or even a draining tract on the muzzle. Amazingly many dogs don’t show signs of pain like we do. They keep on eating!
The carnassial teeth are large shearing teeth in carnivores and are the last upper premolar and the first lower molar.  These teeth have three roots.
Also commonly seen with this tooth (notably the upper one) are slab fractures - where a vertical section of the tooth on the outer (buccal) surface is hanging or even gone. This creates a nice pathway for bacteria to get up and into the root area. I have found many of these on routine exams, for which the dog was not having any dental or pain issues. They are often large breed dogs that chew on rocks, fencing/cages, toys, etc.
Dogs should be put on antibiotics and for many dogs this will make the “bump” go away but in my experience these always come back and eventually further work needs to be done. I recommend removal of the tooth but there are board certified veterinary dentisists out there that can save teeth via root canal, pulp therapy etc depending on what is going on. Obviously this is more expensive but some people choose to go this route, notably if it’s a show dog. Most clients I know opt for the extraction. 
Remember those three roots? Because of them you can’t just PULL the tooth out easily even if it appears badly diseased. They are generally in very good except in a few circumstances.  The gum is gently flapped up away from the base of the tooth and a drill can be used to split the tooth making complete extraction successfull. In most cases, the gum is sutured down or together and the dog goes home on pain meds and a soft food diet for a short time. Dogs tolerate this extremely well. 

Remember for an animal, living with less or no teeth is better for them than living with bad teeth - from both a pain (they do HIDE it well) and from an overall organ health standpoint. 

No comments:

Post a Comment