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9-Year-Old Chihuahua Needs 9 Teeth Removed

August 7, 2010

It Starts as a Tiny Lump

“Doctor, I’m worried about this lump on Tiny.  It’s been there for a coupla years, but it’s been bothering me, and I wanted to get it checked out,” said Tiny’s mom.

A black, long-haired 9-year-old Chihuahua stood looking up and smiling at Doc Truli.  Her tail wagged faster than a puppy Boston Terrier’s tail!

“Has the lump gotten bigger, smaller, or stayed the same?” asked Doc Truli.

Tru Tip:

“Doctors want to know if a lump has gotten bigger, smaller, or stayed the same since you first noticed it.  Getting bigger might be a bad sign.  Getting smaller could mean the lump is inflammation, not cancer.  Staying the same makes the doctor wonder what made you feel the urge to make the appointment.  A good doctor will ask more questions to find out what put you over the uncomfortable edge and made you schlep your dog or cat to the vet that particular day,” says Doc Truli.

“It’s exactly the same.  I just figured, since we’re here because I got that reminder card, I’d mention it,” said Tiny’s mom.

“Well, the lump is about 4 mm, round, and fully under the skin.  There’s a chance it’s benign.  We should schedule surgery and have it removed and tested,” said the Doc.

Hidden Dental Disease Unveiled at Annual Check-Up

“You have a bigger problem with Tiny’s health.  Her teeth are in abysmal shape.”

“I just had her teeth done last year,” said mom.  (Everybody says that!)

“Believe it or not, it’s been three years!” said the nurse, after double-checking the chart and the computer record.

“I can’t believe it, are you sure?” said mom.  (Everyone says that, too.)

“Yup.  August 3, 2007,” confirmed the nurse.

“OmiGawd!  How much is that gonna cost?” asked mom.

Doc Truli examined Tiny’s mouth as best as possible in an awake, nervous, squirming Chihuahua.  The upper left front canine (fang) tooth was loose, and Tiny sneezed any time Doc touched the tooth tip.  4 other premolar teeth wiggled when Doc Truli lightly touched them.  So, at least 5 teeth were not useful any more.

“Let’s schedule Tiny for a surgery day,” said Doc Truli

Tiny the Chihuahua Needs 9 Teeth Removed!

furcation exposure

furcation exposure

Under anesthesia, after ultrasonic cleaning, full mouth radiographs and a physical examination of each tooth, Doc found 9 loose, infected teeth and 1 tooth that was in danger of becoming loose, but could be saved for later.

The blue arrow in the picture points to the furcation in a premolar- the arch under the crown of the tooth that marks the separation between the front root and the back root.  Normally, you should not see this furcation.

This damaged tooth, and the ones on either side of it also wiggled when Doc touched them.  The radiographs (x-rays) revealed pockets of bone missing where the roots were; the teeth were barely holding onto anything.  These premolars had to come out!

Chihuahua's premolar is sectioned in half at the furcation before the doctor removes the two roots.

segmented tooth

Here, the two surrounding premolars are already removed.  The arrow points to a cut drilled through the tooth dividing the front and back roots at the furcation.  The loose tooth is much less likely to crack and leave a fragment of root in the jawbone if the two sections are removed individually.

Doc Truli then irrigated the tooth sulci (sockets) with sterile water, applied Consil bone filler, and sutured the holes in the gingiva for quick healing.

Nine teeth extracted from a nine year old chihuahua

Nine teeth extracted from a nine-year old chihuahua

Tiny made a full recovery and ate a Tablespoon of soft canned food about 40 minutes after waking up from her surgery.

“For about 14 days after mouth surgery, Tiny should eat only canned, soft food,” said the Doc.

“Oh, Doc, she stopped eating dry hard kibble a year ago,” said Tiny’s mom.

*!*# If your dog suddenly stops eating hard food or hard crunchy treats, get the teeth checked by a veterinarian who enjoys and understands working with teeth!!!!

P.S. The lump took about 2 minutes of surgery, came out in no time, and tested benign. Not a problem at all!

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