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6-Year Old Maltese Needs 12 Teeth Removed

March 6, 2010

Or, How 3 of Those Teeth Could Have Been Saved

Including 3 Questions All Pet Parents Ask When They Are Told Teeth Need Extraction

Also Including the Important Tip: What Are the Most Important Teeth?

maltese dog recovering from tooth surgery

Bennie wakes up after his oral surgery.

Bennie’s Bad Breath

A little white fluffy dog trimmed in a two-inch puppy cut wagged his whole hind end along with his tail as Doc Truli patted his head and leaned in to check his teeth.

Benny had terrible breath! His front incisors moved a little when yours Truli touched them lightly. His molars were hard to get a good look at because he wiggled so much, but the Doc could see some of them overlapped and they were covered with tartar.

“Bennie needs to undergo dental surgery,” Doc Truli said.

“But he’s only six years old!” mom said.

“Almost all dogs his age have periodontal disease unless they’ve had their teeth brushed pretty much daily,” Doc Truli reassured,”Once his teeth are cleaned, assessed, and taken care of, we can teach you how to keep his teeth healthy from now forward.”

Bennie’s mom left him for the day for dental surgery.

Bennie’s Dental Day

First, Bennie had his pre-op EKG (painless) and his pre-op bloodwork. The nurses put an IV in his little arm, and he got some diazepam (one brand name is valium) to help relax him for the anesthesia.

Bennie’s anesthesia went well, but his dental exam was horrendous. The incisors were loose (useless). 3 major molars had one abscessed root and one or two normal roots. The rest of the diseased teeth were rotten premolars.

Maltese with rotten premolar

The reddish black spot under the white crown is the diseased, bloody root exposed to the air!

Maltese with crowed 408 and 408, premolar and molar

Crowded, unhealthy teeth

In fact, one of the premolars was damaged because a baby tooth was stuck under the gums and never fell out. Two other molars were damaged because their neighboring teeth crowded them, leaving no room for healthy gums, or tooth sockets.

Doc Truli says,”Everytime I call a pet parent to tell them teeth have to be extracted, everyone asks the same questions:

1-How will he (or she) eat?

A-Better than with rotten, painful teeth.

2-How many teeth will be left?

Comment-Doctors always focus on how many will come out, it takes extra effort and time for us to flip the perspective and have the answer ready for you. I take the extra minute because everyone, bar none, asks this question.

3-Is that the best price you can do?

A-No matter if your vet charges $10 or $100 or $1,000 for dental work, it always feels like “extra.” Probably, this has to do with the absolute fact that no vet can predict how much disease will be found until x-rays are analyzed. And no pet sits still for x-rays of the delicate mouth structures without anesthesia. So your pet will never have a firm cost estimate before you leave him or her for the procedure.”

Unnerving, I know. And to top off your feeling of being cornered, you really do not want your beloved to undergo another anesthetic procedure just because you were not financially prepared for any outcome! That’s just the physics and biology of the situation!

Treatment Options for Bennie

Those 3 important large molars had two treatment options. The first was extraction (which we ended up performing because the second option was too expensive for Bennie’s folks.) Let me explain how those 3 teeth could have been saved with option 2.  But first, a little lesson in tooth priorities.

What Are “Important Teeth?

There are 8 “important” teeth in a dog’s mouth. The four canine, or eye teeth, you see in the front. Then there are two big molars (technically, premolars) on the right and left upper arcade.  They are called carnassial teeth. They each have three roots, two toward the front and one toward the back of the mouth. The other two integral teeth are the big bottom molars on right and left. These bottom teeth each have two roots.

These molars can look normal to the eye, and they will not wiggle when examined, because one root may be damaged while the other root or roots are solid. Between a careful exam with periodontal probes under anesthesia and dental x-rays, the pattern of disease is revealed. If only one root is damaged on one of these molars, the tooth can be saved.

How Molars Can be Saved

“How can we save molars?” you ask.

The molars are sectioned in half. The useless, diseased half is removed from the mouth altogether. The remaining healthy part of the tooth now has a hole into the pulp and no enamel to protect the cut surface. Root canal therapy fills and seals the remaining canal, so there is no pain and no infection can attack the inside of the tooth. A mold is made of the tooth.

In a separate anesthetic procedure, a crown replaces the original chewing surface and appearance of the tooth! This surgery does not replace the need for daily toothbrushing. The saved root can still get disease around the tooth (called the periodontum), become loose, and be lost.

The financial expense? The same as for a person! This kind of advanced salvage and reconstructive work is usually best performed by a board certified veterinary dental specialist.

Bennie Came Through Like a Champ!

Bennie’s parents wished to save his molars, but would have needed to wait a year to save up the money for three root canals and crowns. Bennie could not stand the pain and disease for another day, let alone a year!  All of the useless, diseased teeth left his mouth that day.

extracted damaged teeth from maltese dog

The Dirty Dozen (Apologies for the lack of focus) The premolars on the bottom were not broken on removal, the roots were rotted away!

After surgery, Bennie rested comfortably with his strong opioid painkillers. After arriving home, he seemed just like his old self! Bennie even still eats dry dog food, even without those 12 teeth.

(Note: It looks like more than twelve teeth in the picture because some of the teeth have been cut in half, and do not count as 2 teeth.)

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93 Comments leave one →
  1. Jane permalink
    September 2, 2014 7:50 am

    Hi
    I have a 9 year old greyhound who has had 22 teeth removed, she’s a rescue dog 🐶. She had some stitches on her 2 top molars but food is getting caught on them. The vet doesn’t seem concerned about this but her breath is really bad. I was wondering if there is anything I can clean them with until they completely dissolve.
    Thanks so much

    • September 2, 2014 5:20 pm

      Yes, ask your vet about doggy mouth rinse. I’m not sure if there is some reason a special one might be needed. Sometimes I will hold off on mouth rinse for other reasons, like pain or behavioral aversion or location of stitches being vulnerable to dislodging with manipulation of the gums.

      So ask your vet to be safe.

      -Doc Truli

  2. August 5, 2014 7:31 pm

    I have two little Maltese amigos that I took to the vet today for dental surgery. The oldest one, who is 13, had all but two teeth removed! On the call, I asked them why they didn’t simply remove all of her teeth, but they said that they never remove healthy teeth. I’m wondering if having just one canine and one molar will not actually cause her more problems (bite, gum injuries, more difficulty eating, etc.) Your thoughts would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Marc

    • August 5, 2014 10:49 pm

      Whether a few teeth are helpful and not hurtful is not scientifically known. It is a judgment call. Or as I like to say, “This is why a robot can’t do my job.”

  3. diane permalink
    July 8, 2014 9:07 am

    Could you give some advice please. My dog has auto immune disorder which means we have to constantly treat his dry eye condition. It was only a couple of years ago I realised that his ongoing plaque build up on his teeth (even after dental cleaning) was due to lack of saliva in his mouth – part of the auto immune problem. He has just had 16 teeth removed (age 9) and he seems to have recovered well, eating within an hour of coming home etc. But he seems to have developed a habit of needing to lick the rug, carpet or his paws all the time. Is this something common and what is the cause please

    • July 9, 2014 6:15 pm

      Dear Dianne,
      I do not give medical advice unless I am your pet’s veterinarian. Licking everything is known to be linked to underlying gastrointestinal disease about 3/4 of the time. Seek a referral to a board certified veterinary internist.

      -Doc Truli

      • diane permalink
        July 10, 2014 9:04 am

        Hi there, thanks, I was just wondering if it were common after tooth extraction. My own vet has now returned from holiday and tells me that it is most likely due to a change in the food we are giving our dog following the loss of so many teeth. It may be of some use to others who find their dog doing this following a large number of extractions. We will introduce his usual food gradually as his gums heal.

  4. June 3, 2014 8:53 am

    My Maltese Barry White had 11 teeth removed he is 12 years old. He had kicking bad breath and is so much happier little dude. My vet in Vegas never told me he had periodontal disease, I recently moved to Jacksonville and my new vet had a fit and probably saved my precious pup’s life. I spent some $$$ but he will have a happier life
    and stay alive a lot longer. If you leave this undone you risk your dog’s life and health.
    Teddy

  5. Leeann sumrall permalink
    May 23, 2014 8:55 pm

    How do I know if my dog teeth were hurt by someone his 5 dose he still have baby teeth

  6. Kathy permalink
    March 5, 2014 12:45 am

    My 8 yr. old Yorkie had 12 teeth pulled two weeks ago. He was on antibiotics for a week. The day after he finished them, he started throwing up. I called the vet and they said to give him Pepto Bismol. That has helped, but he still throws up about once a day. He has had soft stools too, but not runny. Has anyone else had this problem after teeth extraction?
    Thanks,
    Kathy

    • March 5, 2014 7:44 pm

      Dear Kathy,
      Usually if I have a patient vomit after dental surgery, it’s because of antibiotics. It should clear up after a day or so off of the antibiotics. If it does not, I would book a recheck with the doctor. You really cannot be sure the advice you received over the phone doctor approved.
      Yours,
      -Doc Truli

  7. Carol M permalink
    February 5, 2014 5:46 pm

    Hello, my 9.5 year old Chinese Crested/Yorkie mix went in for anesthesia for dental cleaning today. She had a lot of plaque build up when we got her from the pet rescue a year ago but they said her teeth looked pretty good. We took her right away to see our vet and she said the teeth probably could be cleaned but looked good. A few weeks ago a new doctor at that clinic examined her and said she needed cleaning very soon (no more than a few months) – because of the large amount of plaque. He was the first to stress it. So we scheduled it. I was very worried because of her age. They called to tell us they removed 17 teeth ! (We haven’t picked her up yet, so I don’t know exactly which ones, but I think a couple molars maybe, and a lot of the teeth she said they use more in the wild. I am in shock. How could she lose so many teeth and nobody really stress there was a problem? She chews on my hand in play and I’ve never noticed any loose teeth. They said the teeth were lose and came right out with the plaque, and some of them had roots exposed. Her breath was very bad so we knew there were some issues. Should the vet have been able to tell me more prior to the procedure? And should I have expected a vet to be able to steer me in the right direction a year ago — I would have thought they could tell how bad it was even before the surgery? I am so happy she made it through the surgery, but am struggling with why we weren’t told to do this a year ago, vs. just “she could use a cleaning”. Maybe it’s not uncommon to discover all the problems once the dog is on the table ?

    • February 5, 2014 9:25 pm

      Dear Carol,
      I am so proud of you for taking care of your dog’s teeth.

      I can tell you without a doubt it is impossible for a vet to tell how many teeth are end stage. With my experience, I can sometimes guess if it’s going to be a big surgery. But sometimes I’m surprised either way.

      I can say, any calculus (tartar) is worthy of a deep cleaning under anesthesia with dental x-rays. I’m guessing there was tartar, not just plaque when you adopted your dog.

      Plus, breeds known for terrible periodontal disease.

      I understand your shock. Right now, help your dog recover from surgery.

      Learn everything you can about plaque prevention. Plaque starts within 12 hours of a meal. Tartar starts after plaque is left 5-7 days. Speak with your veterinary team about your home care to keep the teeth as healthy as possible.

      Good luck!

      -Doc Truli

      • Carol M permalink
        February 6, 2014 4:09 am

        Thank you for your response. We talked quite a bit with the vet today when we picked her up and we are convinced that this was all lurking below the surface and was a surprise to all involved. Even they were surprised at the extent of the damage. Her previous owners had her for 8 years and then she was off to the shelter again. Likely she did not have good dental care during those years and we feel so badly for her that we were not knowing we should have done this cleaning sooner, as certainly she had this significant advanced dental disease for some time . I am encouraged that although she lost 17 teeth, only 2 (molars) of those fall in the category of those 8 most important teeth. She will be able to eat well and enjoy her remaining years with us. The information on this website helped us formulate questions for our discussion with the vet that were very helpful. Just as with people, we must do all we can to take good care of the teeth of these little ones entrusted to us. Thank you again for your response and encouragement.

  8. Jen permalink
    November 19, 2013 4:17 pm

    wow… I am shocked at all of this .. Adog lived before in nature never having a dentist to pull their teeth ? NOw we have professionals telling us to get htem pulled if they appear strange? I have had a horrible inncodent with this and listened to the Vet My doggie was a Maltese and only 9 yrs old and well I took her and they out her under to clean and pull and she never came back to me again??? So does A vet have the right to this without explaining the risks of the anathesia to an older dog??? I am heart broken.. lost my angel to a Vet that sisn’t explain to me the dangers of this. I wont listen to them again If I get another pet. This is the worst experience of my life…

    • November 23, 2013 8:16 am

      Dear Jen,
      Please accept my condolences on your doggy’s passing. It is such a shock when a patient dies during a surgery. Especially dental surgery.

      When I perform dental surgery, I educate my pet parents about periodontal disease. It is a systemic, progressive infection and inflammation that hurts the whole body. If your dog has loose teeth from tartar and periodontal disease, they are very sick.

      The shock is, most dogs eat and generally look okay with this disease. It is a chronic, degenerative disease. So usually, there is not a signal or sudden change to let you know how wrong it is going.

      If you smell that horrible doggy breath, that is bad disease. Of teeth are loose, just imagine of your dog were a person. A loose tooth would be a terrible problem!

      As for your intuition about wild animals not needing dentists, a lot of people tell me that. It is a common misunderstanding. After accidents, dental disease is the #2 killer of wild animals like mountain lions and wolves.

      To everyone reading this who has ever lost a pet under anesthesia for dentistry, it is shocking! And very sad. But you did the right thing to authorize the procedure. Sometimes we just do not know how fragile our pet has become from their dental disease.

      Good luck in your grieving, it’s never easy to lose a lived one,
      -Dr Truli

  9. carrie permalink
    October 30, 2013 4:47 pm

    hi, thank you for your blog :)
    my 9yo 6# maltese has a loose ULmolar- yes structural- appears quite large but also covered in tartar and just barely hanging on- last night he suddenly increased salvation and kept licking clicking mouth- I realized he cannot close his mouth- he cannot eat or drink :( it just falls out of his mouth- as when he opens his mouth the tooth falls out of alignment and he can’t then close his mouth-

    here is the problem w/ above scenario- quickly moving past the “I should haves” the sad fact is I have had a recent change in my financial status, and I am nearly broke. I do not qualify for any type of assistance, so my family & I have no medical or dental ourselves, and we are in need of our own dental care… if I can’t afford my kids dental- I can’t justify taking my dog in for dental work. (before ppl say I should rehome my dog- that’s not an option!)

    my question for you is— can I clean some pliers and pull the tooth myself? I feel he is in pain, & I know he is severely distressed when he can’t close his mouth. I know it will cause initial pain to pull it and I understand there will be blood. *Q~ what can I give him for pain control? Q~how much blood is too much? will the gum heal on its own w/o antibiotic?

    I realize you cannot say for sure as you do not know the extent of damage or disease process, but are you able to plz advise extraction or not? and will pliers do the trick?
    *this is horrible for me, I provide him w/ good dogfood, exercise, & chew toys incl greenies… plz know if I had the $ I would take him to vet and also get the dental cleaning done professionally…
    ****thank you in advance!

    • October 30, 2013 8:19 pm

      Dear Carrie,

      Please do take your beloved dog to a veterinarian you trust. Do not assume it will cost too much. Go find out! Reshuffle your tiny budget and find a least a little money to offer in good faith. (I have a very hard time helping people who come to me without any money at all, not even $5 to offer to help their pet!)

      Get creative. I helped a cat last year that was so itchy he was ripping his fur out. The wage-earner had been down-sized and out of work for 18 months. The family has no cash to offer. They gave me their antique camera and all of its lenses as collateral, got a job 2 months later, and paid their bill 3 months later. The pawn shop would only give them $100 for a fabulous camera. I have them $300 worth of meds and services. By the time they paid, their cat was cured, they had a new job and outlook on life, and got their camera back (I was almost hoping they would leave it!). I felt happy for them and proud to have helped them through the lowest point of their lives.

      That’s what I mean by “working something out.” It’s not begging, or living off the dole, or being chronically fiscally insolvent. It’s being creative and negotiating a win-win relationship to help your pet.

      Dear readers,
      Here’s a hint, a small investment in a yearly physical exam not only helps prevent expensive emergencies, it also sets up a relationship with a veterinarian who knows you and may help in hard times.

      If you’ve had hard times for your dog’s whole life and never went to the vet, please examine your budget and find room for some basic vet care. It is truly a matter of priorities. I know plenty of people here in the US, living in a rented room or on the street, with no electricity or refrigeration, but they find ways to get vet care. I know other people who beg in an emergency while waving an expensive cigarette in my face and dropping a lottery ticket stub on the counter. Priorities people!

      -Rant by Doc Truli

      • October 30, 2013 8:22 pm

        Ooooo. One other salient point. Many people tell me they cannot justify money for their pet before their human children. I get that. But 1) this is a life-threatening emergency (if pet cannot eat for weeks) and 2) this is a golden opportunity to teach your children how to make a kind, caring decision.

        Just done food for thought.

      • carrie permalink
        November 9, 2013 8:09 am

        Hi,
        Thank you for your reply. I love that you are willing to “barter” or “trade” for your services with your patients!

        Unfortunately- where I live- I have yet to hear of such a Vet…my dog DOES receive an annual exam. There was tartar on teeth then, but I was just encouraged to brush them.

        This vet that I have used for years will not trade his service for a camera or anything else but cash-upfront. So that is just not going to happen. But again- I like that idea! He will also not work as a “pawn shop”…

        Just so you know, IF I could pay for a full dental workup/cleaning/oral surgery as needed etc–then I would do so! I did not post on your site for you to give me any type of lecture- I simply asked for your advice on whether or not I could pull a loose tooth on my own, at home- and if that was safe for my dog… at same time, I do understand where you are coming from- you are a vet by profession, and you are passionate in your love of animals and providing for them in the best way possible.

        and please know that I DO understand that optimal care would be a vet dentist :) but when I say I cannot afford it, I can’t. period.
        (for the record~ just a few years ago- when I was at a better place financially- my neighbors 100# GSD attacked my 5# maltese- that death bite/shake dogs do? That was my lil guy getting ripped apart. His entire abdominal cavity was ripped open and his entrails were literally hanging out. I scooped him up, wrapped him in a towel with a wet washcloth around his guts. literally. and rushed to the vet- to be told he wouldn’t survive. and it would be expensive. I said do whatever you can please– they performed surgery… then called me @1am, to tell me he most likely wouldn’t survive the night and to come in and say goodbye. I spent the night with him until they kicked me out. days later I brought him home, $1700 lighter. (and that was with them doing what they could to save $ for me)
        **I just want you to know- that if I HAD the $ I would TAKE to vet. When I say I don’t have it? I don’t. When I say my child’s medical care comes first? it does. it must. but again, if I could, I would.

        *but just so you know, I AM trying to locate a vet somewhere that possibly offers low cost care… or would allow payments. From the research I was able to gather- he needs an antibiotic started asap, & the tooth pulled.

        Finally, my dog is eating :) he is able to drink well enough, and I am giving him canned dogfood & bits of chicken breast now, but i have to sorta slime it on my fingers so he will ONLY lick it, as every time he opens mouth to bite- that tooth pops out of place and food falls out of stuck open mouth. I am also giving him chicken broth to drink…

      • carrie permalink
        November 9, 2013 8:21 am

        PS I don’t smoke, nor play the lottery (maybe I should?) (play the lottery I mean!)

        Also, the homeless around here, and their dogs- do not look well cared for and are hungry and in serious need of medical and most likely mental health care…

  10. Joene fair permalink
    October 20, 2013 11:39 pm

    Help. I did not see my dogs problem addressed here. I took my four year old MiKi to the vet because her teeth were covered in tartar. She weighs just three pounds. The vet said she would need to have several teeth pulled. When I went to pick her up she had a broken jaw and only three teeth left! They said the jaw will heal on its own. She is so small they have nothing to wire it to. She is eating ground food moistened with warm water. The problem is every time she drinks any water she raises her paws and beats her face and falls over with her legs flying all over. She has never done this before. Her tongue hangs out on the side after drinking. Please advise me how to help her.

    • October 23, 2013 4:14 pm

      Seek a board certified dental specialist. http://Www.avdc.org. I’ll bet 1) her jaw can be stabilized and 2) painkillers.

      -Doc Truli

  11. applemoon permalink
    September 3, 2013 7:14 pm

    I have a small terrier mix that has bad teeth well internal staining. We found him roaming the streets it’s been almost 2 years so he had those teeth. Since having him he goes for his cleaning yearly under anesthesia and I bought dog brush and toothpaste for him. I don’t brush everyday but I do brush 2-3x daily. I love my dog so anything I can do to prolong his life of course. Years ago they did not talk about dog’s teeth like they do now but it’s just like a human if you don’t take care of your cleaning’s and exams it could lead to heart problems. He also had to have a back molar removed because it was bad so he is just predisposed to bad teeth or god knows what his previous owners fed him. I do know the feeling of guilt because a dog is a child to us we want to do whateva we can for them.

  12. Nich permalink
    August 30, 2013 11:31 pm

    Hi,

    I have a JRT with essentially an entire mouth of rotten teeth, his breath is horrible and he “goops” because the infection has gotten into his sinuses. He is 15 years old and I am terrified to have his teeth taken out, which I know he needs. He has DCM and is on a special trial with the vet branch of a local university for a global study to slow the signs of DCM (one of 20 dogs in the whole world). The meds he is on for the trial are working and he still plays and enjoys being around his people, but it’s obvious he is in pain with his teeth. With his weakened heart condition, I’m scared to lose him, any advice?

    • August 31, 2013 5:42 pm

      The cardiologist can advise you of the risk of the risk of anesthesia for him. if there is markedly increased risk, then you may have to decide whether to take the risk to make his mouth comfortable, or “get by” with oral care short of anesthetic procedures, which is not very definitive.

      I wish he had regular dental care before he developed the cardiac problems, but I must day,I have very few clients who believe me and understand the advantages of yearly anesthetic professional dental procedures.

      Good luck. Listen to the cardiologist, and best of luck which ever course you choose.

      Yours,
      Doc Truli

  13. Melissa permalink
    August 29, 2013 4:11 pm

    I took my 5lb maltese in to the vet today to have the teeth cleaning. He said before we did the teeth cleaning he may have to take out about 4 teeth. Just just finished and told me they took out 15 teeth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. I am in shock. I was not prepared for this at all. I wonder if my dog can even eat again. It sounds horrible. They told me he had gum disease and it was worst once they got in there. He started having this cough about a month ago and we took him in and he told us that this was the cause of the cough all the tartar in his mouth. I never realized how bad it was. I take my dog to the vet every 6 months and no one ever said I should have the teeth cleaned. I feel I let my dog down as an owner.

    • August 30, 2013 7:24 pm

      Dear Melissa ,
      Don’t feel bad. The 12 incisors are grooming teeth. Did your dog lose any of the eight structural teeth? I have seen teeth go bad in 6 months between check-ups.

      I do start at the puppy visits encouraging people to brush their dog’s teeth and remove daily plaque build-up. Especially in breeds like Maltese. Then again, I also wrote these stories on VirtuaVet to try and enhance your veterinarians recommendations.

      It’s shocking to think of losing 15 teeth, but I think your little one is going to feel so much better!

      -Doc Truli

      • Melissa permalink
        August 30, 2013 9:23 pm

        My 5lb. Maltese
        He still has the main structural teeth. He seems so depressed today. It’s day 2 from the surgery. He was able to eat some of his food today. He just seems so sad to me. My other dog is being really quite. They usually bark a lot at night but since this has happened they are acting so different.

  14. Chanel permalink
    July 26, 2013 8:16 am

    Hi there, thank you for your post, I have tears in my eyes as my dogs and cat are my ‘babies”, I can’t have children, I feel like they are mine, yet I can’t help her/them! I already know one needs $3000 level 3 dental! (My husband has a cracked molar and my teeth need checking……etc!
    no dental plan here!) No my baby chihuahua went in for ingrown nail and when Vet checked her mouth, WOW. Her left front molar is wrapped around by “hair, etc.” at root, loose it is huge! I felt soooo upset for never noticing and Vet said she already has lost 7 teeth already! I know these breeds are prone! As I paid $300 yesterday for meds, nail cut and bandage/ plus 70$ for a 5 min. check up! Will the antibiotics suffice! I choose to get it not pulled as it will “fall out” anyway! Then I notice my cat looks like he lost teeth on sides too! The only one that has full set, is the worst case as mentioned 1st? My chihuahua is on Tramadol plus antibiotics, as no mention of abscess mentioned but gum disease, “gingivitis” I am thinking to slit the pills 3/4 – 1! 1 for chihuahua and 1/3 of pill (Clinicin) 25mgs to mini Daschund (the one I thought surely was the worst! As she would be first in line for gum disease! I know that problems with teeth can effect the whole body!!! I am beginning to blame myself
    , as I feed them right, liquid minerals, “Arthodex minerals and vitamins, pure RO water! Eliminating all toxins. I don’t believe in “chemicals” found in water! I have tried liquid breathe freshener, denta sticks, brushing before, everything! I am now trying colloidal silver, as it is truly natures remedy!!!!??? It is too late for teeth to be cured. Vet said brushing their teeth would not have helped! So basically what to do when on a budget! I have already paid a small fortune on my “babies” and do you think I should get it pulled or far out with meds? I thought they were very healthy? Sorry about long message, I feel so sad for them right now!

    • July 28, 2013 9:18 am

      Dear Chanel,
      1) Do not “split” pills. Yo will end up not helping either dog.
      2) Cats have 30 teeth, dogs have 42. Your cat might be fine.
      3) Nothing. NOTHING will save the loose teeth. For readers out there–having your pet’s teeth checked once or twice a year is one of the benefits of a physical exam. Problems can be caught before they become impossibly expensive.
      4) Blame will not help at this point. The supplements you mentioned might help the other teeth a little bit, but not the already loose teeth.
      5) If you can afford it – get the mouth surgery done. But if yu cannot, then you cannot! There’s no shame in that. If you want to get the surgery done and know you should in your heart, then find a way!

      Here’s an ethical dilemma I face almost daily – when someone brings me a small breed dog with horrible teeth, and they cannot afford surgery, some people ask me if they should put their dog down because they are in pain. My gut reaction is no! But really, I don’t know if they really are suffering or not? What do readers think?

      Also- I realized the pain is probably intermittent. For example, if I eat something I’m allergic to and I get swollen sore gums by a few teeth, it hurts a little all day, but it hurts a lot when I hit the spot with a piece of food. So I eat more carefully and guard the area until it heals. Maybe our pets know how to do that.

  15. Rebecca permalink
    July 7, 2013 2:45 am

    We have an 8-year old German Shepherd Lab mix. We took her to the vet for a check up and they pointed out a fractured tooth that Maggie had (our dog). They said she seems to have had it for a couple of years. I just noticed that it has like a decaying look to it and the gums around the tooth are red. Its Maggie’s left middle back tooth. She doesn’t have a problem eating her food or chewing on her toys. We are worried about the anesthesia in the whole dental surgery she would have to undergo in order to extract the tooth. We don’t want to put her under and have her come out in a bad shape. Can we just leave the tooth and have it fall out or would it be safer to do the extraction?

    • July 7, 2013 5:13 pm

      Dear Rebecca,
      Much, much better to have the tooth pulled out.

  16. Juliette permalink
    July 3, 2013 1:13 pm

    I have 10 lb maltese who will be 4 this year. I tried brushing her teeth regularly with dog toothpaste but it didn’t seem to be making any difference. I looked into it and read somewhere that these toothpaste generally just taste good allowing the dog to let you brush their teeth so i threw it out.

    I now douse her electric toothbrush with 3% hydrogen peroxide and have gotten much better results. Her breath never smells and her plaque has improved.

    However i need to know is this safe to continue long term?

    Also is this safe to do daily?

    Thanks for any and all info.
    juliette

    • July 3, 2013 4:08 pm

      I know of no research in dogs proving 3% hydrogen peroxide is safe in dogs.

      Have you had her teeth examined by a vet before and after? Are you using plaque revealer or an ultraviolet light (plaque glows hot pink or orange-do
      not look directly at the UV light, it cam burn your retina) to see plaque. I wonder if you are bleaching the teeth and they look whiter to you. And I wonder about your effectiveness at removing plaque with this method.

      A soft, comfortable toothbrush does wonders for the teeth, even with just warm water. If you get doggy toothpaste with enzymes like lactoperoxidase, then you will be providing mechanical and enzymatic plaque removal. This is more effective than mechanical alone.

      Don’t forget regular vet check-ups to be sure your pup is not showing signs of periodontal disease or other oral diseases like fractured teeth, dead teeth, or oral tumors.

      -Doc Truli

      • Juliette permalink
        July 5, 2013 9:12 pm

        Thank you for the suggestions. Yes she has been seen by a vet but at that point i was only using the the enzyme toothpaste which had great ratings and reviews on amazon. I was not brushing as regularly as I should of been because she had food allergies and was absolutely miserable for a long time so i was not enthusiastic to put her through a brushing as often as i should of. Now I do it daily and she does not fight me if i don’t do it for too long. I feel her health issue is part of the reason her teeth are so yellow because her saliva is very gooey. I put her on Natures variety dog food which seemed to curb her allergies but as I later learned was not the best food because of the amount of potato they use. Perhaps this too contributed to it her teeth being yellowish.

        To answer your questions, I have not looked at her teeth with a plaque revealer or a UV light. How ever I can see her molars are yellow and her canines have a yellowish ring toward the gum line. The yellow seems to be receding. Her breath remains fresh at all times of the day.

        I thought to use the hydrogen peroxide on her because that is what i use on my teeth weekly and my teeth feel cleaner. However i can spit it out, she obviously can’t.

        She is due for another visit at her vet and I will see what she has to say about her teeth.

        I am not comfortable putting her under so I really want to keep on top of this situation as best I can.

      • July 5, 2013 9:45 pm

        Please do not overestimate the risks of anesthesia and underestimate periodontal disease. Your veterinarian should be able to advise you.

        If you are seeing yellow tartar, then I know your let needs a thorough oral exam under anesthesia. It is impossible to do a six-point exam around each tooth without anesthesia. And you need full mouth dental x-rays in order to assess the bone integrity around the tooth roots.

        http://Www.oralatp.com is a website sponsored by Greenies and written by Dr Bellows, a dental specialist with whom I have worked. The website shows exactly what your vet should be doing during a professional dental cleaning.

        Good luck!
        -Doc Truli

  17. Claudia permalink
    July 2, 2013 3:46 pm

    Hello,

    Just looking for some advice. My 11 (soon to be 12) jack russell has two decaying front teeth. She seems to holding her mouth funny and licking her teeth all the time and kind of shivering when she does. I tool her to the vets today and they advised we have them both taken out under anesthetic.

    She is still eating and enjoying her food. What would happen if we decided not to have the teeth taken out? Is it worth the risk of having her teeth taken out under anesthetic as she is an older dog? Or if we leave her teeth will it just cause more health complications.

    I couldn’t live with myself if I had her two teeth taken out and then she didn’t make it through the anesthetic seen as she seems OK in herself at the minute.

    Thank you,
    Claudia

    • July 2, 2013 10:57 pm

      Dear Claudia,
      I cannot advise you what to do. (Literally, legally, I cannot.) but please do not underestimate dental pain and discomfort and do not overestimate anesthesia risk.

      I think you feel your JRT is fine and you would be risking everything with anesthesia. Your dog is not fine with two loose teeth. Do millions of dogs live with loose teeth that eventually fall out? Yes.

      If you want to use your own feelings of pain and rightness to decide on behalf of your dog, how would you feel (let’s limit this to physical feelings) if you had two loose teeth and red, sore gums?

      (I’m pretty sure JRT’s do not get embarrassed over loose teeth. So there’s no social stigma, like with a human. )

      Also, front incisor teeth are for grooming and chewing at fleas, not eating. So eating would not be the first thing to go with those front teeth being loose.

      -Doc Truli

  18. June 18, 2013 4:39 pm

    Thank you for posting this article. My 9 year old papillon (5lbs) just had 13 teeth removed. I’ve had her since she was a puppy, and have taken good care of her teeth: twice a day brushing, dental cleanings at the vet, and using the tooth sealant stuff made for dogs I get from my vet She’s even had periodontal surgery to save some of her teeth.
    I’m very relieved to read that other small dogs have had similar teeth issues.I was thinking that maybe it was me that wasn’t brushing her teeth properly or that my vet didn’t do cleanings enough. Now I know that it’s just par for the course for many small dogs. Reading the comments has helped a lot.
    I guess I’m lucky cost wise as well, because I only paid $417 in total. The vet only charged me for one tooth removal even though 13 had to come out or were basically falling out on their own.

    • megan permalink
      June 28, 2013 4:19 am

      How long did the recovery take after the teeth were removed? I am leaving town and want to know my dog is comfortable to fly a week or so after surgery?

      • June 29, 2013 5:19 pm

        Dear Megan,

        Your vet should be able to advise you best about when to plan the trip. Here’s my thought: if anything gets complicated or unexpected, do you want the person watching your dog to have to handle it? If not, wait if you can. Otherwise, ask your vet if they eel 1week is a safe window of time for healing. Also, the decision will hinge on how bad the dental disease is. Your vet can help you decide if it is urgent or not.

        Dental specialists generally say 2 weeks for healing.

        Yours-
        Doc Truli

  19. Alice Andres permalink
    March 9, 2013 4:52 pm

    I rescued a Maltese from a kill shelter last week. When I took him in for his first check up they estimated $1024 for the dental work. Is that reasonable? It looks like they anticipate removing the four important molars as one line says 2 three root and another line says 2 two root and one other tooth that is one root

    • March 9, 2013 8:08 pm

      I would expect a Maltese with bad teeth to cost $800-$2,200, depending on how many teeth are removed, whether the hospital has the technology to do x-rays, gingival flap closures of the extraction sites, oro-nasal fistula repair if needed, and really good pain control. So, yes, their estimate is probably fair for the expertise and work involved. Not to mention the good quality of life for your little Maltese.

      Probably, once the little one is under anesthesia, closely examined, and radiographer, they will find more problems. I would have extra financial resources available just in case!

      Good luck! You are doing a wonderful thing helping that Maltese not only have a loving, but a pain-free future.

      -Doc Truli

  20. September 15, 2012 2:44 pm

    Thank you for all this information. I just took my 3yo chihuahua in yesterday to have 1-2 teeth extracted and a full cleaning. Brought him in in the morning for a quick consult. Determined there would definitely be 2, possibly 4 teeth needing extraction and she would know more after seeing xrays. I got a call at noon saying it would be more like 12 teeth getting pulled. He had two in an abcess, a baby tooth that was partially absorbed, and some really rotten teeth, including one with a 90-degree hook in the root that she knew was going to give her trouble coming out. By 4:30 I got a call that they had taken out 22 teeth!! I couldn’t believe it! She explained to me that dogs have 42 teeth, and my Valentino was actually missing 5 already due to genetics. So he was left with 15 teeth still – plenty to be very happy (after healing!). She also explained that small breeds often have trouble with overcrowded teeth and other teeth issues. They have just as many teeth as a German Shepherd, with far less room! While it was completely nerve wracking all day (and don’t get me started on the price difference between the morning estimate and what I finally ended up paying – yowsers!), it was definitely worth it. I would much rather pay whatever price to have a healthy happy dog who fulfills their life expectancy, than my negligence costing him YEARS off his life. He never gave any signs of being uncomfortable, but looking back now I realize he wasn’t chewing on his toys as much as he used to. I thought maybe he was just maturing, as we’ve had him since he was a puppy. The vet said he should be a completely different dog once he’s fully recovered. His pup-brother, a poodle/chi mix will be very happy to be able to play rough with him again. When we brought Val home he was very groggy and our other two dogs were very eager to play with him and cozy up to him again. Right now we’re keeping him crated or on our laps so he stays quiet and doesn’t get too rowdy. My main worry is he is not eating. I was given chicken flavored pain meds for him that he is supposed to take in his food twice a day. They don’t want us touching his mouth and using an oral syringe to give him his meds. And really, he probably doesn’t want us anywhere near his little mouth right now! He has had some water, and he had a couple small bites of ricotta cheese (sent my hubby to get cottage cheese and he brings me back ricotta…oy.) Anyway, we got him some canned food, which he avoids like the plague. So I completely soaked his regular dry food in water and mashed it up a bit. He’s not too impressed with that either. I have plans to pick up some baby food after work – lamb and maybe some carrots (he LOVES carrots). Is there anything else I can do? Should I be worried that he’s not eating and therefore not taking his pain meds? Should I give it another day. He’s acting ok considering. He goes out to pee. He wants desperately to jump on and off the couch, though the vet said due to the medication his depth perception will be off and to not allow him any jumping or steps. Can you offer any other advice?

    • September 15, 2012 3:48 pm

      Your vet has already done such a great job, did you give them a call?

      I find it’s normal for pets not to eat for 1-2 days after major surgery. But I do not know how big or strong your Chi is. I love the baby food idea. I encourage you to call your vet for post-op advice.

      • September 15, 2012 3:59 pm

        His last meal was about 8pm Thursday night, before his Friday surgery. About 4am this morning (Saturday) he had finished the little bit of water I gave him in his crate and managed a couple bites of the ricotta cheese (he threw up a little of it.) He is 5lbs on the dot and normally very healthy – easily jumps on and off the couch, wrestles with our other dogs, chases squirrels in the backyard. I’ve also seen online where people have tried scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes with tuna, and yogurt. Are these things ok to try as well? I have a feeling I’m going to have a very odd dinner tonight with what he doesn’t eat… I’m at work all day, so will call our vet when I get home and can assess his situation. Our dog walker called at lunchtime to say it looked like he may have touched his soaked food, but it was hard to tell. I’m concerned about him not getting the liquid pain meds down too.

      • September 16, 2012 10:12 am

        I like stage 1 meat flavored baby food. Or puréed meat. Low salt chicken broth often gets em going, too.

      • September 17, 2012 12:53 pm

        Update: When I got home Saturday evening, Valentino had eaten his softened dry food! He wouldn’t touch the canned food. I mixed up his meds in babyfood carrots and turkey and he ate it up with gusto! I mixed up some more softened food with some more babyfood and he has been eating quite well now. :) He has become much more himself – full of energy, begging for babyfood carrots, barking at neighbors outside – perfectly normal. I think his checkup in a couple weeks we’ll find he’s good as new. I’m so glad we took the course of action we did, and will keep a much more watchful eye on all 3 of our dogs when it comes to their teeth! :)
        P.S. I chose the most basic babyfood I could find – ingredients in the carrots was just carrots and water. Some of the others had all kinds of additives, which I wanted to stay away from. The more natural, the better.

  21. Julissa permalink
    September 12, 2012 9:25 am

    Thanks for your very informative article and for your help. My 8 year old maltese, Bubu had 22 teeth extracted yesterday :( The doctor prescribed Rimadyl, Tramadol and Clindacure. Is that too much medicine? I don’t want to give him medicine unless it is not strictly necessary. Besides, I don’t want to give him medicine in an empty stomach, he hasn’t eaten for almost two days…. This morning, I tried feeding him, but he wouldn’t eat from his bowl so I tried putting some wet food (Halo) on my finger, he finally started licking it, but just a little bit ( 2 teaspoon). He doesn’t drink water either. Are there any suggestions in how to improve his appetite? perhaps, some home made chicken soup? I’ll try anything! I just want my baby to eat and feel better soon.
    I would appreciate your reply. Thanks, Julissa

    • September 14, 2012 11:19 pm

      The three meds you describe are all indicated after that much oral surgery.

    • Susan permalink
      February 3, 2014 4:49 am

      I was looking for some info concerning my 11 year old Airedale’s not drinking since he has had all his back teeth out. He was trying to drink & would lap & lap, the water would get all foamy and it seems he does not get much into him. It seems a good deal of the water falls back out and he drips all over the floor where ever he walks. We add a lot water in his food to make sure he got liquids. Then I decided to make jello broth jigglers. I used 1 cup of unsalted chicken broth and three cups of water with 4 envelopes of plain powdered gelatin. I boiled 2 of the cups & then poured into the other ingredients along with some nutritional supplemental paste. After it gels very firmly, I cut in cubes. We can throw them to him & he catches the cubes and swallows them very well. He consumes the 4 cups in one day. Now he acts like he doesn’t want to try to drink. I think he got tired of us grabbing him after drinking to wipe his mouth to limit the water & saliva from dripping everywhere. He does go outside to urinate so I hope that means he is getting adequate liquids. But not quite as much as he used too. I am hoping his drinking will improve. If he doesn’t improve with his ability to drink this week, I plan to call and discuss with our vet to see if he needs to be examined again. It has been a week and a half since his surgery. He has a few more days of antibiotics and I wanted to make sure he stayed hydrated. After he finishes the antibiotics, I plan to back off from the jigglers & extra water in his food for a little while to see if he will get thirsty enough to drink. My husband says we have spoiled him. But we did not think he would live as long as he has due to terrible problems with demodectic mange which he still has breakouts from. (He used to take interceptor pills 3 to 4 times a week as an off the label treatment to manage the mites, but Novartis quit making them) The once a month Advantage Multi spot on offers some control. We stocked some interceptor & have given them when the breakouts worsen. Our stock expires May 2014 so we are rationing them until then. All the other products with milbemycin oxide also have flea control so he can only take them once a month. We think the teeth/gum problem is just another part of his immune system dysfunction. Anyway, the broth jello jigglers recipe is too late for the above situation, but maybe it will help someone else with their pet. I also cooked him soupy brown rice with diced chicken breasts, carrots, peas, & parsley. He has that in the morning with some nonfat plain yogurt mixed in before he takes his antibiotic pill (which we wrap in bread). At night he has dry dog food softened with a cup of decaffeinated green tea plus more water, mixed with1/2 can of dog food, a little nonfat plain yogurt, and his fiber. (The fiber is too help keep his anal glands from getting infected as he has had that problem also about 3 times). Despite his problems, Benji has been a wonderful loving intelligent companion.

      • February 3, 2014 8:30 am

        Dear Susan,

        Have you consulted a veterinarian who practices integrative medicine? Food, herbal, chinese medicinal foods for different constitutional body types?

        Plus, i agree you should have the dental surgeon recheck the healing process in the back of his mouth.

        And brava on the water supply thing. Veeeery creative!

        Yours,
        Doc Truli

  22. Retz permalink
    August 31, 2012 3:27 pm

    Both of my 8 year old mini/tweenie Dachshunds are at UC Davis today having 17/18 teeth extracted respectively. I did not know about canine dental care. None of my other (larger) dogs had any problems. Was told at the hospital that all small dogs have dental problems; the smaller the dog the worse the problem(s). Additionally dachshunds are prone to back & dental problems. My smaller girl, Pearl, had back surgery at UC Davis on July 5. When she stopped cooperating with the physical therapy, and after they had alerted me after the back surgery about her poor dental health, I was able to research it and found out that both of my darlings have been in horrendous pain for years. Stupid me! Poor little things. I feel horrible. I have had a bad toothache…is way past miserable!! We (the “girls” & I) are VERY fortunate that I had a small savings and am able to borrow the rest of the money for all three surgeries. Very fortunate indeed! I believe it is all the in-breeding we humans do with canines, that has caused all of the disease in dogs and cats. Very selfish reasons for this in-breeding, such as physical characteristics that are aesthetic only. Selfish, abusive, and very sad. My next dog will be a mutt. I no longer support “dog breeders”. No offense, but we humans have muffed it; in more ways than one! Makes me sad & unhappy to realize how many have no chance of having/getting the money to stop the pain for their animal family members. And all the animals in the world who are mistreated, ignored, neglected and abused. Makes me ill to think of it. Many times ashamed to be a human.

    UC Davis is TOP NOTCH!! I don’t advocate human teaching hospitals, however vet teaching hospitals, at least UC Davis, is beyond superb. The entire staff all love animals and is unmistakeable. They voluntarily keep you updated DAILY, sometimes more, about your pets status/condition. As far as the back surgery UCDVTH performed on Pearl, she is recuperating very well, and is already ambulatory. They expect full function to return with time and continuing home PT. UC Davis performs probably thousands of these surgeries every year. The supervising Veterinarians have been there for years & decades and they know their way around animals. Blindfolded, if you will.They could give human teaching hospitals many valuable lessons in patient care, kindness, compassion & professionalism!!

    Just got a call (the 2nd today) about my girls. Pearl is out of surgery and awake and doing well. They are just finishing up Ruby & will call me when she is in recovery. Then in about three hours I will leave for the 2 hour drive up to Davis, Ca.. Approximate pick up time is 5:30pm. Should have them home around 7-7:30pm tonite. Now the pain decreases, not increases. I love my girls and hated to do this. But to not do it is a painful, long death sentence. Am looking forward to seeing their bright, happy painless faces during/after recovery. What a relief for us all.

    Thank you for this website. I learned a lot here. Including some good questions to ask. I pray for a way for all animals to live painfree, happy, decent lives. Good luck & God’s blessings for everyone!

    • September 1, 2012 7:44 am

      Wow! Thank you do much for your point of view and how wonderful you are able to make your Dachshunds healthy again.

      Your doggies are exactly why I write VirtuaVet inspirational stories. There is plenty of generic, commercial and sanitized pet information on the web.
      What we need is insight, inspiration, and help finding our own unique paths.

      I work with rescue Dachshunds and boy do they ever have horrible periodontal disease. I’m betting your Dachsies will act years younger after their mouth surgeries.

      I’d love to see pictures and hear how they are doing in about a week, if you have time to stop by VirtuaVet and give us an update!

  23. Kati permalink
    June 26, 2012 8:19 pm

    So I decided I would write this because it is an interesting “fact” about my dog’s case.
    My vet has been a vet for over 30 years, attends seminairs/classes etc on denistry and has worked in clinics in big cities before (Vegas, California, etc.)
    The vet tech that worked on my dogs has been in big cities before as well, been a vet tech for like 20 years.
    To the point: My vet said that in his 30 yrs. of experience he’s never seen a dog with such bad teeth. Apparently dogs only accumlate tartar buildup on the outside of there teeth on the cheek side. (I have heard/read this all of the time.) And my dog gets TONS of tartar on the *inside* of his teeth, especially the fangs and of course the incisors had such bad tartar buildup that they had to be pulled. He took pictures of his teeth before and after and x-rays and showed us them. He said that he had very little bone loss. He said the only teeth with bone loss were the ones he pulled. His fangs, which were completely covered in brown nasty tartar had pretty much 0% bone loss along with the rest of his teeth.
    The vet tech that cleaned his teeth (she has worked up in the big city for a dental specalist before) also said that my dog’s teeth were the worse she’d ever seen. (They are talking about how horrible the tartar buildup gets on the inside of his teeth, apparently the majority of dogs get 0 tartar buildup on the inside of teeth. However, she also said she was shocked at how healthy my dogs teeth and gums actually are. She said she thought when she cleaned them that every tooth would have to come out, she said she was suprised it was only the incisors. She said that she has cleaned dogs teeth that were not nearly as bad as my dog’s teeth, but they lost a lot more teeth than my dog.
    Hope that made sense!
    Apparently this is unusual- is this true? I trust my vet of course but was just wondering. I was wondering if my dog really was that “unusal” of a case?

    My vet put a Oravet sealent on his teeth and along with his teeth being pulled he didn’t want his teeth being brushed. In those two weeks he already had tartar buildup on his molar. (his other teeth had plaque but I was able to get that off with brushing) but on his molar it won’t come off. It’s just a little bit but wondering if this was normal?

    My vet said that it was difficult/near impossible to keep the inside of teeth clean that my dog needs so he gave me some other options (get to that in a sec.) But I have been brushing the insides and outsides of his teeth since for the past few weeks and so far no tartar buildup.
    Is it really that difficult to keep the insides of teeth cleaned?
    I was wondering what I good toothbrush/toothpaste would be. I got a toothbrush kit that contains toothbrush(big a big and small end) a rubber finger brush and toothpaste that is supposed to contain enzymes in it. It’s called C.E.T.
    Every time when I am done brushing his teeth he gets a big drink of water, I was wondering if I should withhold water for a few minutes to let the enzymes in the toothpaste work.
    The package, and my vet never said anything about it.
    Does it matter?

    My vet gave his some chews to help with the teeth and said they had an enzyme in it to help with the tartar buildup. He won’t chew on them. I was wondering if “bully sticks” and other bones at a “natural” pet food shop would help his teeth at all?

    My vet told me to put him on dental diet Hills TD but those kibbles are huge. He chokes on regular kibble and small table scraps (scarfs it down and gags a little) I gave him one and he threw his head back and chewed on his back molars, but barely chew it at all. I am worried about him choking, my vet doesn’t seem to think it’s an issue. But I was wondering if you think he would be okay eating this diet? (Or at least a few pieces of it a day?)

    Have you ever heard of PlaqueOff? It’s like a powder supplement you put in there food that’s made from natural seeweed or something, I heard it works really well.
    I was wondering if you have ever heard of it and if you know if it works at all or not?

    By the way, he eats (and has been eating it for a year or so along with my other dogs.) All life stages, dry, Taste of the Wild, lamb formula.

    Thanks! And thanks for answering all of my other questions earlier!

  24. Kati permalink
    June 26, 2012 6:49 pm

    Anyways as stated, he healed well and quickly! Day 2 he was 110% his normal self. And after a couple of weeks his gums had healed nicely (you could see some sutures sticking out though.) I just used my finger and baking soda for a few weeks to brush his teeth to get him used to it. And then I got a toothbrushing kit at the vet for about $15 and have been using that since. (Got it about a week ago.)
    He doesn’t like it but tolerates it pretty well. I have been brushing twice a day or at least once daily. His teeth are still good, gums still healing well where they pulled teeth and gums are still nice and pink and his breath still smells good!

    I was pretty much worried for nothing!!

    • June 26, 2012 8:17 pm

      Wow! Good job!

  25. Kati permalink
    June 26, 2012 6:43 pm

    Sorry! I would have replyed a long time ago but I didn’t think my post every got posted so I didn’t check back. And then I just decided to check and then I saw your posts. I understand that it took a while to reply back, I figured it would!

    My dog is fine and recovered well! He was groggy the first day home but by day 2 he acted just like himself again, eating hard food and never seemed to notice his missing teeth!

    I opted to have an IV done and my vet said that it was a good idea and that it helped him to come out of the anesthesia quicker. He was under for a couple of hours.

    Apparently his organs and everything truly were fine because he handled and came out of the anesthesia very well!

    He needed 11 teeth pulled. 6 incisors on the bottom between his bottom fangs. One premolor tooth on the bottom just behind his fang and four incisor teeth in front, right on top.
    But he didn’t need any fangs or molors pulled!

    We didn’t use Consil. By the time of the appointment I had never mentioned anything about it so I figured it was to late by that time and never mentioned it!

    His tounge doesn’t stick out! You can’t even tell he had any pulled. Unless you open up his mouth or when he’s panting (and even then you sometimes can’t tell.) And he doesn’t notice or care about his missing teeth!

    He recovered very quickly.

    The vet said he could eat hard food on the first night home. But I just gave him wet food. On day 2 I gave him both hard and dry food and did that for about 10 days. And he was able to eat just fine. He would have happily ate dry food on the first night home!

    The vet said not to brush his teeth, have to chew bones, play with toys etc for at least 2 weeks.

    He was prescribed Clavmox antibiotic twice a day for 10 days in liquid. And Metacam? for pain med that was also liquid and he had that once a day for 4 days. (they gave him a pain shot after the procedure.) He took them just fine and it caused him no ill effects.

    He didn’t have any reactions to the sutures. We took him in about 2 1/2 weeks later and they checked him and said his gums were healing well and we could start to brush his teeth.

    The whole cost was about $830 for everything, bloodwork, exam, medication, etc.

    The harness question was more of just a “trivia” question. I wasn’t worried about it just wondering..

    I never mentioned to the vet about his ears but apparently they are fine. They aren’t red and they aren’t bothering him.

  26. Denise permalink
    June 18, 2012 1:27 pm

    I have a 10 year old Chihuahua that needs a teeth cleaning. this would be his 2nd cleaning he also had one five years ago. He has always had bad teeth, even as a younger dog. I noticed his left canine is loose. I know it needs to be taken out. I honestly dreaded putting him under anesthesia, he had blood work– a complete panel came back good with a slight elevation in Globulin, the vet said this is very common for pets with inflammation in their gums he said. I just need to stop my worry and put his health first, above my fear! I know that he will need extractions, I hope he will recover quickly! he is a very loving and playful lad! he has gotten very picky with his food in the last year, it may be from the tooth pain, although he never seems in pain. He does not like his teeth touched but I looked in his mouth anyway with a flashlight. I would appreciate any words of encouragement! I love my sweet little angel and want the best for him.

    • June 26, 2012 8:26 pm

      I’m sorry it’s been about 10 days since you wrote for moral support. Your little one has significant, systemic, progressive periodontal disease. The dental surgery is needed. For some human reason, people feel guilty for authorizing dental surgery. They feel horrible if anything goes wrong, their dog would be fine if they hadn’t done the dental surgery. But the fact is, just because your dog is here and eating does not mean he is happy and healthy.

      If your dog had loose teeth pulled, odds are, he has severe periodontal disease and should have a deep dental cleaning under anesthesia every 3-12 months (depending how x-rays and exam turns out).

      So, of course after 5 years, it’s a wonderland of dental pathology in that mouth.

      I wish your dog a full and speedy recovery. And consider at least annual cleanings, if not more often.

  27. Kati permalink
    May 6, 2012 9:01 pm

    Thanks for your time reading this! I hope you will see this post in time and be able to respond it would be a great help to me, but of course I understand if you can’t.

    I’m really worried about him.

    So if you and everyone else reading this can take the time and send there thoughts and prayers our way on Tuesday morning and wish him a speedy recovery. I would really apperciate it!

    Thanks!

    • May 16, 2012 3:36 pm

      Dear Kati-
      How is your little one doing?
      I’m sorry I didn’t reply sooner. I curate this comments myself and usually I do it weekly. I post comments from readers that I think will help other readers or be interesting. I know it slows down the conversation, but it also prevents garbage from being published.
      Please, I know about 200 readers right now who want to know how it all turned out!
      Yours,
      Doc Truli

  28. Kati permalink
    May 6, 2012 7:43 pm

    I’m worrried about his heart and other organs. The reason I decided to do a dental is because I know it cause heart, kiney, liver and lung diease/failure. I figured his organs were fine and he didn’t have infection yet, but I also didn’t think he would have any teeth pulled and I was wrong about that so I am worried about his heart and stuff. He had blood and exam done and everything thing was fine. He doesn’t have any systom of heart failure. Do you think he’s okay? The vet didn’t seem to worried about it, just told me if I didn’t get it done it could cause that but he didn’t seem to think he already had a problem.

    How can you tell if teeth need to be pulled or not? Is there any “risk” factor where I can look at my dogs teeth and be like yes they are going to need to come out?

    What is Consil bone packing powder? I saw you mention it in the German Shepherd article. My vet didn’t say anything thing about it. He’s not a dental specalist just a regular with a “special interest” in denistry. He says he attends classes/seminars on dental. Yet he didn’t mention anything about it. Is it a common thing? Is it expensive? Any more info on this?

    Will his tounge hang out? I read that getting fangs pulled causes to the tounge to hang out the side of the mouth like 24/7. I can see it when he’s panting but not just all the time. When I open his mouth up his tounge is always behind his fangs anyways. So do tounges commonly hang out after extraction? Will getting this teeth pulled change his apperance at all?

    What’s the recovery like? He’s going to need at least 10 out of 12 incisors pulled and possibly fangs and a premolar. And as in previous question, if the tounge does hang out what will truly be his quality of life after this operation? He eats dry food but we have been switching him over to wet food and we were going to give him wet food for a couple of weeks will these be enough? Or will he be on wet food for life? (We are obviously going to talk to our vet about this as well.) He will be on pain meds but kind of wondeing how much pain he will really be in, and how long until he starts eating and acting normally again? We were going to keep him away from other pets for a few days so he doesn’t get his mouth bumped. How long until he can play with toys? Can he plays with toys? How is he supposed to hold them in his mouth without teeth? He only plays with soft toys and doesn’t really chew them just holds them in his mouth. What about bones like rawhides will he ever be able to have these again? Like a month after operation?

    How soon after operation can I start brushing his teeth? A couple of weeeks? I was going to maybe a week after op going to wet a gauze pad and gently rub over teeth, is this okay?

    What are the commonly prescribed antibiotics and pain meds? I like to research them before giving them and just wondering what are the “common” ones. Will they be liquid?

    He was neutered at at 4. But neither one his testicles descended so they had to make two incisions in his stomach by legs one on each side of abdomen. They used dissolvable suters and he had an allergic reaction to it and had to go back in and have them removed and then had to wear an e collar and have neosporin appiled a couple times a day for a couple weeks. The vet is going to use dissolvable suters in him gums. It was the same vet we took him back to so I don’t know if they marked this in his chart or not. Should I mention this to the vet before operation?

    How much do will an extraction add to the procedure? All the stuff I mentioned it was going to cost $400 with out it. How much does extractions usually add to the price?

    Are you supposed to take of harness before going in? Can we leave it on? Or should we take it off before leaving for the clinic?

    His ears were red when we took him him for his exam. The vet told us to remind him so he can check them. But his ears were red but after returning home about 10 min they weren’t red anymore and haven’t been red since and his ears never bother him. I was wondering if it could be stress related? But wouldn’t the vet know that? My cousin had a dog and they did dental cleaning and cleaned his ears will knocked out and then it caused an ear infection. What are they going to do to his ear?

    • May 16, 2012 3:34 pm

      1) If your physical exam and lab work does not show organ dysfunction, then it may be there and be “clinically undetectable.” There are limits to modern medicine!

      2) How can you tell a tooth needs to be pulled? It is a medical diagnosis made by your veterinarian. That’s like summarizing 8 years of college and 1-50+ years of experience in a sentence, impossible!

      3) How can you tell if your dog is at risk of losing teeth? Actually, if the gums bleed easily, then the odds of periodontal disease are high. Periodontal disease is a main way dogs and cats lose their teeth.

      4) Consil is a bioglass man-made material that can go in the bone or tooth socket and fill the socket to make the bone stornger a year after the extraction. I use it regularly. It is expensive.

      5) Tongue sticking out-depends on the dog. Usually sticks out of the canine teeth are removed and can no longer hold the tongue.

      6) Recovery- varies for each dog. This is a question of prognosis to ask your personal veterinarian. Generally, the dental specialists say it takes about 14 days for the mouth to fully heal from regular extractions.

      7) Dogs vary in what they will eat after they have lost teeth. Most dogs eat wet food until the vet says it is okay to start on regular food and treats and toys. Some dogs like to stay on the wet food. Most dogs will eat anything anyway, even with no teeth!

      8) Brushing teeth after dental extractions. This is entirely dependent on each mouth, tooth, and procedure. Ask your vet.

      9) Common antibiotics and painkillers. Ask your vet. They vary from country to country and regions. It’s good to be informed and be your own patient advocate, but you are researching too broadly. Ask your vet what they use and if they have information sheets for you about the meds.

      Most antibiotics and painkillers for small dogs will also come in liquid form as well as pills.

      10) Suture Reactions- you should always remind your vet about past reactions to anything. That IS being a good patient advocate!

      11) Cost. Wow. It varies./ The most expensive dental I have done was US$2,400. It was full mouth extractions, full Consil, gum surgery, therapeutic laser and some reconstructive jawbone work. I have seen bills from the board-certified veterinary dentist up to $10,000 for a single surgery! You should be far, far south of that.

      12)Harness. Are you really asking about the harness? Your nerves got the best of you! Releax, have some chamomile tea.

      13) Ear. I often perform ear hair plucking or flushing under anesthesia. Most of the dogs have an ear infection at that time and we treat it. Plucking and cleaning can be irritating and an infection can set in afterward. I never treat the ears without permission.

      Good Luck!

      • Denise permalink
        June 18, 2012 1:31 pm

        I just left a message on the bord. you seem very bright, when you get time can you respond to mine? My name is Denise, and I posted today June 18, 2012…thanks ;)

  29. Kati permalink
    May 6, 2012 7:11 pm

    So I don’t really know if you will respond to these type of questions or not. Or if you will see this in time or not. But I read this when when I was looking for info on teeth extractions and then I read the one with the German Shepherd and your site looked really good and so I wanted to ask a few questions for my dog.
    I have a lot of questions and I don’t even know if you will see this in time but my dog has surgery scheduled Tuesday, May 8. And I’m trying to ask questions in order of most important to least important so if if you could answer at least a few questions I would really apperciate it but of course I understand if you can’t. I was going to ask this a few weeks ago but I had a family emergency and was out of a town for a few weeks and didn’t have a computer so that’s why I’m asking so late.

    Anyways, I have a male 8 year old (when he has the operation he will have been eight for about one month) Toy Poodle. That needs a dental cleaning and unfortunatley extractions because I waited to long because I was worried about anestetic risk. This will be his fourth time going under and he has handled it well before. And he had another dental cleaning at age 4. This will be his second cleaning. No teeth were extracted the first time. I brushed his teeth for 2 yrs. after first cleaning so they have needed done for about two years. We took him to our vet (it’s the same vet for all other operations) and he had a physical exam and pre op bloodwork done and everything was ok. (We are going to check when we go in to make sure blood was fine.) He acts perfectly fine, healthy, hasn’t slowed down at all, etc. And teeth don’t act like they bother him.
    All of his incisors on the bottom or looose (the two closest to the fangs on each side are very slightly loose) his bottom fangs are both loose, maybe I can’t tell. Four incisors on top are loose and the incisors closest to the fangs on top are NOT loose and the 4the premolar tooth on the right side looks like it’s chippped, don’t really know how to explain it.

    My vet said the those incisor teeth when they cleaned the teeth they would just fall out because the tartar was what was holding them in place. He didn’t seem to think it was a big deal and said he would feel better. He said after they were cleaned he would take xrays and chart each tooth and let me know if any needed pulled (We will be waiting in the waiting room so he will come out and talk to us.) He said that two vet techs work on him. One does the cleaning and the other monitors him, and the the vet checks them. He said they monitered heart rate, body temp, and something else( blood pressure or something.) They have them laying on a heated pad through the procedure. He said if any needed pulled, they would deliever a local anestetic, suter it and send him home on pain meds on antiobiotics. He said they give them a sedative, then inject a short lasting anestetic so they can put the endotracheal tube in and they he will be breathing in gas anestehesia and oxygen. He said they don’t normally do a catherter unless it’s a high risk patient. It’s an extra $70 and he didn’t seem to think my dog needed an IV but would do one if I requested it. Again this will be his fourth op and he hasn’t ever had an IV in except the first time when it was emergency surgery and there was no bloodwork prior and he had never gone under before, other than that the other two times he didn’t have an IV. And he was fine.
    He said no food the night before after 7:00 P.M. And no water after 7:00 A.M. the day of surgery, he is scheduled at 8:00.
    I want to know if everything I wrote here is “common.” If my vet sounds like a good vet, I trust him and his techs they have lots of experience but just wanted to make sure.
    What do you think my dogs risk for anesthesia *truly* is?
    Do you think my dog needs an IV. I kind of want him to have one but the vet doesn’t think it’s nessassary, I read it helps keep blood pressure up, helps flush out the drugs and helps kidneys, and of course gives an immediate acces to his system in case of emergency, everywhere I have read this is a MUST. (Including other vets.) The whole operation, including cleaning, polishing, bloodwork, dental xrays and flouride treatment and stuff cost $400. The cost of the IV is an additional $70. Then he needs teeth pulled, so the addtional cost of local anestetic, suters, pain meds and antibiotics I don’t know how extra this will be. Then of course each extraction is extra. So I have no idea how much all of this is going to cost. So I don’t want to spend money on an IV, have him not need it, and then not be able to do an extra extraction because I spent that money on an IV. On the other hand I don’t want to NOT get the IV and have him need it.
    So in your opinion is an IV nessassary to do you think, for this case? Do you use one on your patients?

    • May 16, 2012 3:20 pm

      OMG. Katy-you are nervous and worried. You have soooo many good questions.

      I use an IV if I expect a procedure to last more than 15-20 minutes, or if the patient is a high-risk anesthesia patient, even if the anesthesia is only a few minutes. Everything you wrote in this first post looks standard. Every hospital sets its own standards for whether an IV is necessary.

  30. Patti permalink
    April 13, 2012 3:44 pm

    Our little guy Max just had 7 pulled today we had noticed his breath was starting to get alittle overwhelming and took him to the vet, where they told us he had stage 4 of course we took him for a second opinion only because we also always felt we have been good pet parents but low and behold it was the same results. after reading this I feel alot better about what we did and was wondering from reading this seems to be alot of malteses with the same problem here, is it the breed or is it just common in smaller dogs,. Cant wait to pu our little guy tonight at 530 and hope he has a speedy recovery.

    • April 15, 2012 8:51 am

      Patti,
      Good for you! Max is going to feel so much better.

      Most dogs and cats have periodontal disease by 2 years old. (75%, according to specialists.) So, by the time your guy is 7, then some teeth are loose, which defines Stage 4 out of 4 Periodontal disease. I know it’s a shock, but somehow dogs seem fine while this disease is progressing and then when you notice, or a vet shows you at a check-up, it can be shocking to consider.

      I try so hard to educate my pet parents when their puppy is young to start caring for the teeth and budget for routine cleanings to help prevent periodontal disease. Precious few people believe me and take action. It’s a constant effort to improve my patients’ quality of life!

      I hope Max makes a speedy recovery. Plus- once a dog has Stage 4 Periodontal Disease, then there is always periodontal disease in the mouth. Speak with your vet about aftercare. If Max won’t let you touch his mouth, then a dog trainer can teach you how to train him. Letting your folks brush your teeth is a much better trick than “giving paw!” Also-plan for regular deep cleanings under anesthesia. The American Veterinary Dental College recommends every 3-6 months for a Stage 4 dog. Most of my clients agree to every 6-12 months, but there’s a lot of inflammation and periodontal damage when you wait a year.

      Yours,
      Doc Truli

  31. Cate permalink
    March 17, 2012 10:55 am

    Hi, After reading these posts I feel a little better about my little doggie. He was 1 to 2 yrs old when we adopted him. He’s now 6-7 years old (from a shelter, so not 100% sure) Maltese Mix. His breath is icky. He was always well fed with a good diet, groomed, had his teeth scraped, proper shots etc.. and then we, like many people experienced job loss, unemployment, difficult financial choices to take care of a family of 5. Our dogs teeth are rotting and I’ve realized his front bottom teeth have fallen out! Also, a few in back are loose. After we got him, I found a wonderful Vet. Unfortunately, I met him late in his career and he soon retired. A new one opened up with higher prices and I started to only get necessary shots or sick care at petsmart. I am close to tears now about what I should do. I can’ ask my husband to do anymore than he is already doing to keep our mortgage paid. 2 years ago I inquired about Teeth Scraping and was so shocked at the costs I kept putting it off. I thought I did such a good thing by taking this abused dog(my 1st) out of a shelter. I feel awful because i love this little dog. What will a Vet think when I get him in there?
    ;(

    • March 25, 2012 9:30 am

      Dear Cate,
      We see this every day. I am so sorry about the costs. It is expensive for most families to care for a dog’s bad teeth (just as it is for our teeth.) If your dog were a person, he would be hospitalized and put o intravenous antibiotics for teeth that bad. There is inflammation and infection coursing through his body because of the teeth. Unfortunately, it is super common. A veterinarian can help you with prescription antibiotics, mouth rinses, and other stop-gaps to try and make him a little healthier. They can also give you a cost estimate with a range so you can start saving up.

      If the budget is so tight that you’d have t save for 20 years, then you will have to accept reality and do the best you can do. Sometimes a creative, communicative vet who costs more on the face of things, will save you tons of money in the long run by making a plan and targeting only what you need. (For example, does you dog need all of the shots he gets?)

      Don’t feel bad. You adopted him with the problems. The shelter did not inform you. And the problem is waaaay bigger than you ever imagined. There’s no shame in trying to deal with that.

      -Doc Truli

  32. britcook@rocketmail.com permalink
    March 5, 2012 1:56 pm

    Hello, my dog Baxter just had 25 teeth pulled! I am worried SICK about him. I am going to pick him up today at 5 PLEASE if you have any tip…. I feel SO bad he will be in so much pain. I really hope I made the right choice.

    Thank you,

    Brit

    • March 11, 2012 8:56 am

      Be sure to ask your vet for painkillers for him. If he likes canned food, use that. If he doesn’t, then you can soak his dry food in hot water to make a soft mash. Or you can blend him some food to make a pablum (baby food) consistency.

      Make sure your animal hospital gives you clear and written instructions for his post-op care so he will be okay.

      Try not to feel bad. Getting rid of diseased teeth is great for him. After a few days he will feel like a new dog.

  33. Jenn permalink
    February 29, 2012 12:10 am

    I have been reading through the posts about dental issues and missing teeth and since my boy just had 8 extractions yesterday I have been so worried about him. He is an 8 year old Maltese who had been pacing and licking all night. I thought it was anxiety but my vet examined him and said his teeth were in very bad shape. I have always considered myself a doting and caring pet parent so I feel terrible that he was in such pain and I didn’t realize. Since I have brought him home after surgery yesterday he has been happily eating his new canned, soft food! He is my sweet little boy and although I’m still nervous that he may be in pain or uncomfortable, I’m hoping that he will be much better without these bad teeth and live many more healthy years.

  34. David Jessick permalink
    December 2, 2011 9:42 pm

    My dog just had 20 teeth removed but they were just the font and all the important ones were ok the vet said and i was wonder if he will live a normal life after this all i want is for my boy max to be ok

    • December 4, 2011 5:10 pm

      Dear David,
      Max needed a healthy mouth more than he needed those teeth. You made a good decision!
      Yours,
      -Doc Truli

  35. Fusafusa Mommy permalink
    July 25, 2011 12:23 pm

    Doctor Truli, thank you for your wonderful post. My 9 year old Chihuahua Fusafusa (a recent rescue), is at the vet today and had 11 teeth extracted. I’m reading up on post extraction care while I wait for her pick up time… After reading your post, I’m confident I made the right decision, and hope we’ll live a long happy life together:) Since her mouth is tiny, I’ll try to wipe her teeth with a gauze as you recommend. Thank you!

  36. Esther palma permalink
    July 14, 2011 2:55 am

    I thank you for all of the advice regarding Mr. Houdini and his problems with his teeth. I should say our problem with his teeth. As his problems are my problems. I will start feeding him the recommended dog food, in addition I will start saving for him to have cleaning every 4 months. Mr. Houdini has had a hard life , at least during the last couple of years. He is just starting to trust me, so I will go slow and work on gaining more of his trust and that may lead to him letting me brush his teeth. For now I will plan on having his teeth cleaned by a proffesional at the begining of November and go from there. I thank you again for your help. I will keep in touch. You offer a great service.

    • July 17, 2011 1:18 pm

      You’re welcome, Esther.

      Remember to always consider your veterinarian’s advice regarding Mr. Houdini’s over-all health. Thank you for adopting a doggy who needs ongoing maintenance. Many people would not bother.

      Yours,
      Doc Truli

  37. Esther palma permalink
    July 11, 2011 8:19 pm

    I have recently resqued 9 year old Maltese mix. Mr. Hodinni, the resque group that I got him from had to have 17 of his teeth remove. He does not let me brush his teeth. He does not like anythig in this mouth except food. Should I feed him dry food or mix the dry food with water. Is there anything I can do to teach him to let me brush his teeth? The vetenarian offers a dry food that is suppost to help with gum deciase if mixed with his regualr food. Do you know if that type of food usually helps? My vet, says that there are no proof that the “grenney” dog treats or bones work in preventive gingivities. Please help me, i love my little guy and I do not wanat him to loose anymore teeth.

    • July 11, 2011 10:20 pm

      Dear Esther,
      The Science Diet Prescription T/D food is recommended by the American Veterinary Dental Academy (“specialists”) to help the teeth, and I agree. It’s actually a complete diet and does not need to be mixed (unless you need to “stretch it” for financial reasons.)

      I would not mix the dry food with water (as a general recommendation) as there are concerns about bacterial growth on the kibble once it sits for a while in water. However, your veterinarian knows your dog’s situation best so I would certainly follow your vet’s advice about this specific question.

      It’s a shame he does not want you to touch his teeth, but it is not surprising. His mouth was in a lot of pain for many years, and he remembers it! You can teach tooth brushing with behavior modification training. If you are not a dog trainer, it can be a little hard to understand the nuances. If you can afford a trainer, find one who uses “clicker training” and before they come to the house, let them know your goal is to teach him to have his teeth brushed. They should be confident you can achieve that goal- some trainers will even offer a money-back guarantee of some kind. Be sure they are bonded, which means they have professional insurance to be in your house and check if they have credentials for dog training, or at least good references (happy customers) you can call.

      There is no proof Greenies do anything to help Periodontal disease. Plus, your guy probably does not chew vigorously because he used to have many sore, painful teeth. There are water additives or powder to put in food that can help reduce bacteria, plaque adhesion, and through this route decrease the speed with which tartar builds up again. Any treats, additives, or powders are maybe 1% as effective as good tooth brushing, but sometimes it’s all you can do! I use CET Aquadent water additive or all-natural Vetri-Science Perio Support powder in my practice. Neither is scientifically technically proven at all. Both have ingredients that make sense for periodontal care, such as chlorhexidine and zinc.

      You must know, once a dog has 17 teeth removed because of periodontal disease, he has Grade 4 out of 4 Periodontal disease. The deterioration of the periodontum – which is the gums, tooth socket, bone around the teeth, and periodontal ligaments that hold the teeth in place – the deterioration always continues. Always. Periodontal disease is progressive and it causes systemic inflammation in the whole body. The goal of treatment is to decrease the rate at which periodontal disease progresses and help him keep the rest of his teeth.

      For a dog who will not allow his teeth to be brushed daily, you should have a deep dental cleaning under anesthesia every 3-6 months. If you cannot, for financial or other reasons, then he will have stinky breath and lose more teeth sooner than you would like. We all do the best we can do, right? The official recommendation for Periodontal disease Grade 4 of 4 is every 3-6 months dental cleanings and daily tooth brushing.

  38. Scarlet's Mom permalink
    March 10, 2011 8:36 pm

    My 12 yr old Maltese just had 12 teeth extracted today. She’s down to only 17-18 teeth left. It was an expensive procedure. We could have purchased 2 new dogs for what we paid for her operation.

    While I think it was the right thing to do, because our family couldn’t live with how stinky she’d become. I worry about her prognosis. Being 12 yrs old how will she recover? How do we know the infection didn’t spread into her bloodstream and she’ll die of organ failure? How will she eat? Mostly I question the ethics of our vet. Would our vet tell us if Scarlet’s prognosis is was bad enough that is wasn’t worth the money to have the procedure or would she just collect her paycheck?

    Cynical I know, but as the vet bills get higher and higher I can’t help but question whether vet procedures are really necessary or if they are milking you for everything your worth cuz they know you’ll do whatever you can for your beloved pet.

    I think as I’ve watched my 12 yr dog age, I’ve come to the realization that she’s not going to live forever. I don’t believe in letting animals suffer but I also don’t think you should have to mortgage the farm to extend their life. So how do you find the balance? I’m sure everyone has there own threshold of amount of money they are willing to spend on their pet’s health care. I’m just not sure what mine is yet. I guess if the procedure we paid for today allows her to live for 3-4 more years it was money well spend.

    • March 12, 2011 7:00 pm

      Wow! Lots of questions!
      1) How do you know the infection didn’t spread? Well, it did! But antibiotics and the body’s healthy immune system take care of that. Removing the source of infection (periodontal disease) takes care of it, too.
      2) Organ failure? You probably had pre-op bloodwork. That tests for the function of the organs. Plus, if she handled anesthesia well, her organs are probably functioning well.
      3) How will she eat? Soft food for up to 14 days while the gums heal. Then, after that, the answer is “much, much better than she has been.” You have to understand, your vet would not remove teeth unless they were Grade 4 or 4 Periodontal disease. Those teeth could not chew. She probably felt pain when her gums and tongue touched those teeth. Scarlet’s probably going to feel and act much younger now. Plus, other conditions like collapsing trachea, chronic cough, or arthritis get better when the teeth are fixed.
      4) You “question the ethics of your vet.” I would tell you if I thought your dog would not survive surgery on the mouth. Or if I thought the anesthesia would shorten her life. In almost all cases, taking care of the teeth extends life and quality of life more than any other surgery or medical treatment a vet can provide. I just removed 18 teeth on a veterinarian’s 19-year-old cat! The day after surgery she was eating like she hadn’t eaten in years!
      5) About vet bills getting higher and higher. I feel that’s true. But I also realize pet parents like yourself might imagine profits are getting higher. Profits in veterinary medicine are abysmal. For example, my veterinary technician was having a tough day and she knocked over the dental ultrasonic unit used to scale pet’s teeth. The repair? $500! Just like that! I try to provide the best quality medicine, best communication, cleanest hospital, best trained staff, and reasonable prices. Just training alone, at one staff meeting a week that everyone attends, costs $150 in pay for an hour that no one is actually doing procedures or services that make money! It’s worth it; but it makes surgeries like exodontia cost more than just a few hundred dollars.
      6) Since Scarlet had so many teeth removed, she had Stage 4 out of 4 Periodontal disease. The veterinary dental specialists would prescribe deep cleaning under anesthesia after only another 3 months from now, and then every 3-6 months after that! No kidding! Periodontal disease is systemic and progressive.
      You really must try and see if you can brush Scarlet’s teeth after the gums have healed. She will start accumulating plaque and tartar 5-7 days after the procedure. There are also water additives and powder for her food that can strengthen the periodontum and prolong time in between cleanings, but they are a far second in effectiveness to daily tooth brushing with doggie toothpaste and doggie toothbrush.
      7) Finally, the money question is a very good question. In an ideal world, you would take off work and take her to get a deep cleaning every 3 months and brush her teeth daily. I have a client who does that and she paid $5,000 for a molar hemi-section, root canal, and crown for her dog’s molar, with a year’s worth of pre-paid cleanings from the dental specialist (not me!) Even if you have the money, some might wonder, is it ethical to spend it on your pet? $5,000 could help a lot of foster kids, or fund a school program, or save 100’s of stray animals. I think where you spend your money is partly your prerogative if you earned that money. I know oral health adds years to a pet’s life, and they feel like younger, healthier years.

      Bottom line, while you have your doubts, I think Scarlet is a very lucky girl and you did the right thing by her. Plus, Maltese can live for many, many years past 12!

      Yours,
      Doc Trui

    • bre permalink
      June 7, 2011 7:20 pm

      I am not sure how much it cost, we are in the same situation with our four year old Matlese and she has horrible breath. I have already spent close to $1,000 to treat her gums and teeth with antibiotics and steroids, etc. I can’t afford anything more and am trying to find a vet that will extract for as little as possible but I just wanted to say to you that you did such a kind thing because I know they suffer with this condition and I know it was expensive but if you spread it out over the next five years it will be worth it. Mostly because your dog feels better and healthy. You did a good thing just wanted to let you know that. I hope your little one has many more happy memories with you. God Bless Sabrina

  39. pidluk permalink
    November 15, 2010 6:12 pm

    My maltese which is 13 years old just had 11 extractions yesterday. Poor guy was all edgy all night long and resting only few minutes at a time. Just made soft food with pasta and ground beef , mixed vegetables cooked in a slow cooker and made small portions for at least 3 weeks.He had his first meal today and gobbled it , was having problems feeding antibiotics but the vet suggested putting it in food and that seems to work. Gave him his painkiller and now resting …

  40. cindy permalink
    June 25, 2010 1:01 pm

    Hi,

    I just wanted to follow-up on Milo’s dental surgery. The little fella ended up having 22 teeth pulled. It is 3 weeks out and he is doing well. I really don’t see much change in his behavior which really shows how animals hide their pain. Milo along with the Stage 4 Periodontal disease had at least 3 abcesses. I know how painful that can be, but Milo never showed it. I bought a childs toothbrush and have started getting Milo used to brushing. I also might try the drops. The groomer where I take Milo suggested putting him on a Raw diet and said that she had noticed less tartar build up on her dogs since they had been eating it. I tried to switch Milo but it made him sick. He’s always had a very sensitive tummy, but I thought I’d try. What are your thoughts on Raw Diets for pets?

    Cindy

    • June 28, 2010 7:17 pm

      Hi Cindy,
      Good job with Milo! He’s feeling much better, I’m sure.
      I, too have seen dog’s teeth stay cleaner with Raw diets and with filtered or spring water, instead of just tap water.
      The original movement for raw meat and foods diet for pets started in Australia as the Raw Meaty Bones campaign. There is a newer site for the United States for support and tips.
      I tell my pet parents about raw foods diet if they inquire, or if they cook for themselves, know how to shop for ingredients, and know how to clean and handle meat properly. People that already cook and know how to handle the raw, basic ingredients, may already have a favorite kosher, organic meat supply at a butcher shop, are more likely to understand the intricacies of food safety and prevention of bacterial spread.
      Some people ask me about raw diets, even when they always order in or eat out for themselves. I find it nearly impossible to take a person who does not enjoy the kitchen and wholesome food, and teach them all about food from the ground up (literally.) It’s too overwhelming!
      If you do not select the proper size and cuts of meat for your pet and you do not contain the mess, and do not understand not to mix cooked and raw foods together, you could possibly make your family very, very ill by spreading e coli, salmonella, or other devastating bacteria around your environment.
      If you already like cooking and understand not to mix cooked and raw, etc, then raw bones is not very hard to learn!
      I tell my clients:
      1) Be sure you have a support network. A local groomer or pet shop or vet that distributes raw brands of pet food, or an online community to ask questions and get support when issues arise (like how to switch to the diet!)
      2) Be sure you only use fresh, organic, preferably kosher meat sources, or a good brand like the BARF diet. In the United States, no one in the meat slaughter and packing industry expects someone to eat the meat raw. They are good, hardworking people, but I’ve visited the slaughter and packing plants. Misunderstandings and mix-ups occur that could cause your meat to have bacteria or worse in it. A good, local butcher is a blessing for raw meat diet eaters.
      3) Get support to gradually switch your pet to a raw foods diet. The digestive ability of most pets fed a commercial processed diet is diminished. They feel sick when they eat fresh food, and they lack the enzymes and the helpful bacteria to digest the raw diets. Usually, a stage of going through a home-cooked diet transitions them to the raw diet more smoothly. Some experts say “nah! Just go raw!” A few of my regular clients just feed organic kosher chicken necks a few times a week as a treat and a good quality commercial food like Blue Buffalo or Flint River .

      Good luck!
      Keep us posted!

  41. pickles permalink
    June 7, 2010 4:36 am

    I have been using liquid toothbrushing drops rather than brushes with tooth PASTE and am wondering about the effectiveness of the liquid drops. One of my rescue dogs came to me with horrible teeth and after an extraction & scaling of her other teeth, I have been brushing regularly (about 5 times/week… not every day, admittedly) but the tartar is clearly returning.

    May I ask, please, is this reappearance of the tartar most likely because I have been using toothbrushing drops rather than a brush & paste & elbow grease? or is it more likely because I have only been brushing 5 times a week instead of daily?

    P.S. Your blog is super interesting & useful in general, but the dentistry-related posts are truly fantastic. All sorts of excellent information not found anywhere else. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to post these.

    • June 9, 2010 5:56 pm

      Thank you for learning everything you can about your dog’s teeth!

      You absolutely must use mechanical rubbing action on the teeth to prevent the tartar build-up. In fact, veterinary dentists claim that warm water on a gauze pad gently rubbed on the tooth surfaces will suffice almost as much as brushing and toothpaste.

      Drops have good stories behind them. Many people swear they see tartar disappear when they use drops in the water dish. But you aren’t experiencing good results. Plus, the research that has been done with oral drops focuses on prevention and treating dogs with Grade 1 Periodontal Disease, which is fancy wording for Gingivitis.

      If your rescue darling has undergone tooth extractions for Periodontal Disease treatment (as opposed to extractions because of injury), then Periodontal Grade 4 out of 4 is your lot! Your rescue pooch needs all the help on the world. Toothpaste and a Soft Baby Brush, or a Soft Gauze Pad are about to become your best friends!

      Most veterinary dentists say every other day toothbrushing is probably fine. I doubt missing 1 or 2 days a week will cause the tartar to build up.

      If you miss some areas when you are brushing, tartar will creep into those crevices. If I were you, I would get some doggie toothpaste (it’s inexpensive, and your mind will be at ease that at least one thing is done better). Brush or wipe teeth every day if you can.

      But most importantly, be certain you are brushing or wiping every tooth surface facing the lips. The base of the back molars is hard to get at! You may have to go by feel and use a thin cotton cloth or thin cotton gauze pad and feel the ridges and valleys in the tooth surfaces to be sure you have given all the surfaces a good miniature scrub each day or so.

      Give your baby a treat of food, attention, a walk, or precious time with mommy as an immediate reward. You must reward within 30 seconds of the toothbrushing for the connection to be made in a dog’s mind (and heart.)

      Good luck!

  42. cindy permalink
    June 3, 2010 10:36 pm

    Hi,

    My little guy goes in tomorrow for probably the same dental surgery your little Bernie had. Milo is 8 years old and has between Stage 3 and 4 Periodontal disease. Loose teeth in the front. I’ve been nervous about having him put under, but your article eased my fears a bit. Thank You for posting. I hope little Bernie is well.

    • June 3, 2010 10:45 pm

      Let us know how Milo does. He’ll feel so much better when he’s done!
      Yours,
      Doc Truli

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