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8-Year-Old Yorkie Needs 18 Teeth Removed

July 28, 2013

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8-year old yorkie named precious looks normal. you'd never guess how rotten her teeth are - until she licks you!

“Precious” 8-year old Yorkshire Terrier

Precious the Yorkie Had Bad Breath

“You can smell dental disease way before you can see it,” said Doc Truli upon meeting Precious, an 8-year-old female spayed Yorkshire Terrier. Precious saw the groomer at least once monthly. She ate only organic food. She drank reverse osmosis water and distilled water. She played at the neighbor’s house every day with her Poodle best friend. In short, Precious was well taken-care-of. She enjoyed her life.

Precious never had her teeth brushed. She never had a deep dental cleaning. Precious was a Yorkshire Terrier, one of Doc Truli’s Top Ten Dog Breeds Prone to Periodontal Disease.

“She doesn’t let me brush her teeth,” said Precious’ mom, Debbie. Of course not, her teeth hurt.

“If you have a puppy Yorkie, start brushing and playing with appropriate tiny-sized brushes right away,” advises Doc Truli. “Periodontal disease is evident by 2 years old. Start early to prevent or delay the onset. If you need help, hire a talented dog trainer to teach ‘come, sit, stay, and brush. While you’re at it, have them teach ‘nails’ and ‘face,’ too!'”

“How could this happen?” asked Debbie.

“Yorkie’s are prone to periodontal disease. Plaque is a fuzzy biofilm of saliva and bacteria that coats the teeth within about 12 hours after a meal. If it is not removed physically or enzymatically, it starts to attract calcium and form calculus (aka tartar) in 5-7 days.” This process occurs even with organic food and clean water, although food a dog can chew and scrub the teeth with will help keep the teeth cleaner.

thick, yellow, rough taatar on this yorkie's teeth covers even worse problems.

Yellow Tartar

8-Year-Old Yorkie Needs Dental Surgery

Once the thick tartar accumulates, a deep dental cleaning under anesthesia is needed to get the plaque and disease out from under the gumlines. Unfortunately, almost all dogs have extensive periodontal disease before their people even realize they have tartar. Some of this disease is discovered with a thorough physical exam under anesthesia. A dental depth probe checks the gums to see if they have pulled away from the sides of the roots of the teeth. Radiographs (x-rays) check deep into the jawbone. Tooth root abscesses and other surprises sometimes only show on x-rays.

you can smell, but not see abscessed teeth

black “halos” are tooth root abscesses

“Your veterinarian or veterinary dental specialist cannot tell you how many teeth are diseased until after the exam and x-rays under anesthesia. You will be shocked how many teeth Precious needed extracted!” says Doc Truli.

Tru Tip

Remember to ask your veterinarian if they perform dental x-rays on every pet who is under anesthesia for a dental evaluation and cleaning. Only 10% of vets in America have dental x-rays and not all of them use them every day. Does your vet take dental x-rays?

Precious the Yorkie Needed 18 Teeth Removed!

extracted teeth laid out on scratchy gauze pad. unsaveable teeth have crusts of thick hard irregular tartar embedded with bacteria

front and right teeth were diseased

Doc Truli evaluated Precious’ teeth. One little two-root premolar actually swung back and forth like a barn door! Doc Truli called Debbie during the procedure to let her know the news. A shocked Yorkie mom asked,”What will she eat with?” (Everyone asks that!) Doc Truli said,”She’ll eat better than she does now!” Imagine trying to eat with 18 loose, infected teeth with red, swollen sore gums!

Precious recovered quickly and fully from her surgery and anesthesia. After a few weeks of healing, she started enjoying having her (remaining) teeth brushed. Sometimes she drags a tooth-brush under the sofa and will not bring it back. That’s okay, she needs a new one every 6 months anyway!

VirtuaVet Describes different details of dentistry in each story, please read:

VirtuaVet’s Chihuahua Dentistry

VirtuaVet’s Maltese Dentistry

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Human Hygienist permalink
    February 13, 2014 2:46 pm

    I am a Dental Hygienist and find the radiograph of the abscessed molar very interesting. It looks like the roots are very close to a mandibular canal. I know in humans this canal contains the large IA nerve. In a human we would refer this extraction to a specialist due to the risk of injuring the nerve and causing permanent numbness. Is this a concern in dogs?

    • February 15, 2014 11:32 pm

      It can be a concern. The angles on the rads of dog teeth are highly open to interpretation because their faces are all different shapes. So we cannot always tell how close that nerve might be.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Annete permalink
    February 6, 2014 2:00 am

    I have an 17 year old little Yorkie, Jordan, whom I adore. I was advised for the last several years by my former vet (I moved- vet was great) not to put him under anesthesia due to a minor heart murmer that was diagnosed. He has taken Enalapril daily since the diagnosis. My new vet in Atlanta has urged me to proceed with a dental cleaning. she said she doesn’t hear a murmer any longer and he is in otherwise good health (aside from hearing and vision challenges- which is understandable at this age). In recent months I have started hand feeding him canned (Royal Canin) dog food as hard food became difficult for him to eat. Prior to the heart condtion diagnosis I did have his teeth professionally cleaned. I do believe his teeth/gums are compromising his level of comfort and ultimate quality of life. that said, I am terrified of moving forward with the dental cleaning and costing him his sweet little life. there is no denying there is tooth decay/tartar/calcification/bad breath/and some evident discomfort at this point. I am extremely concerned and terrified of making a poor decision as it pertains to Jordan’s life and happiness. I know 17 years is a blessing, but I think he has a few more good years in him and don’t want to rob him (or myself) of that.
    I would appreciate any professional guidance/advice you can offer.
    Thank you,
    Jordans mom:)

    • February 6, 2014 7:24 pm

      Dear Annete,
      Have a cardiologist for dogs perform an echocardiogram. If the cardiologist clears him for anesthesia, you can feel much better about a decision to have his teeth cares for under anesthesia.
      -Doc Truli

      • Annete permalink
        February 6, 2014 10:17 pm

        Dr. Truli- thank you for the reply and advice. I sincerely appreciate it.
        Kindest Regards,
        Annete

  3. January 20, 2014 2:14 am

    How much did it cost for this yorkie to have 18 teeth surgically removed? I have an 8 year old as well in the same condition and I would love to get hers taken care of asap!

    • January 20, 2014 8:52 am

      Dear Olivia,
      I cannot give you a great idea of cost because it varies very much depending upon which city, state, country in which you live. Also, a low price means lower technique and sometimes not even surgical close if the sulci (tooth sockets).

      Look for:
      Dental x-rays before and after extraction
      Confident vet, or board certified in dentistry
      Good anesthesia monitoring with attention paid to keep your little yorkie warm throughout the operation
      Multimodal pain control.
      In my area of Florida, a house costs US$120,000, people earn $35,000-$45,000 per year, a pet physical
      Exam is $42-$59. Your area may vary.
      A dental surgery to diagnose and remove 18 teeth takes about 2 hours directly in surgery and 2 hours of check-in, check-out, nursing care, surgery set up and clean up. It costs about US$1,300

      Does that help?

      -Doc Truli

  4. July 28, 2013 10:41 pm

    Boy, do I echo your encouragement to find a vet who is qualified to assess and treat dental care. I spent months trying to find out what was wrong with Barnum’s mouth before I took him to a veterinary dental specialist. I wish I’d done it long before. If you’re interested, this was the surgery: http://sharonwachsler.com/barnums-oral-surgery-the-details/
    But the long-term effects have been many, some expected and some surprising, all positive!

    • July 29, 2013 10:08 pm

      Great job, Sharon! I perform vital pulpotomy often. It’s especially useful if a dog breaks a tooth and you hear it. If I can catch it within 48 hours, I can often save the tooth with the vital pulpotomy instead of using a root canal or an extraction surgery.

      I’m so glad you fixed his issues with his mouth.

      BTW, I also provide lots of pictures for my clients the way the dental specialist does. How else can you really understand anything that was done?

      -Doc Truli

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