Doesn’t Archer make Santa look good? Oh, sorry: I guess I should take a moment to introduce this cute little guy. His name is Archer and he’s soon to be twelve years old in February. And YES, he has a Mohawk.
Did you know as a dog owner how important it is to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy? Just like a human can develop periodontal disease, a dog can also suffer this condition. I’m saddened to say my dog prior to Archer, Dominic, lost several permanent teeth in his later years. Dominic was a “pet store” puppy and had a degenerative eye condition that caused him to go blind at the age of seven. He lived for fourteen years. I should have been more diligent with his dental care.
I decided Archer was going to get used to having his teeth brushed and began using a “finger cot” type brush when he was a puppy. Thank goodness for Poultry flavored toothpaste. There was a time when my father came to visit that I entertained the idea of replacing my toothpaste with the Poultry flavored tube just to see if my dad would notice and use it instead.
Don’t worry, the key word was “entertained” the idea, I never did it.
I know the identifying numbers for adult canines are six (6), eleven (11), twenty-two (22) and twenty-seven (27), but I must admit I don’t know a dog gone thing about the way they identify or number dog’s teeth.
I do know however that dog’s back teeth, I guess they would be considered molars are anatomically different than human molars. Instead of having a wide, grooved yet flat biting surface, dog’s molars have more of a triangular shape.
They have a second smaller shaped triangle closer to the gum tissue. We have corners on our molars and identify them as “cusps”. I am going to refer to that smaller triangular part of a dog’s tooth as a cusp. Just like we can break a cusp on our tooth, a dog can fracture that cusp on their tooth. It’s known as a slab stick fracture. The reason I know this is because Archer had a slab stick fracture.
I discovered it while brushing his teeth! He has graduated from a puppy “finger cot” to a “big dog” toothbrush. Sometimes I take a children’s toothbrush from my work place, Dr. Paul Caputo’s office and use it. Archer is very compliant and doesn’t mind having his teeth brushed. He even allows me to use a dental instrument to scale off tarter and stains.
While brushing, I noticed the cusp moved. It was fractured like a splinter and a sliver of it was being held in only by the gum tissue.
The vet wanted to extract Archer’s entire tooth, but I begged them to just take out the fractured piece only. With reservation they agreed to do so. They were concerned that after the sliver was removed, the nerve might be exposed causing him pain, just like a human tooth.
I made a promise that I would keep that area of his tooth clean and monitor it. If the gum tissue became inflamed or I noticed any symptoms, I would allow them to extract the tooth. Luckily it’s been several years since that tooth issue and Archer has never had any symptoms or problems with the tooth since.
Just remember as a pet owner if your pet’s dental health is good it helps lead to a longer, healthier life for your pet. So, keep on brushing your canine’s canines. Maybe Santa will bring him some dog biscuits, rawhide chews and new toys. He’s got a Christmas list a mile long!
Paul L. Caputo, DDS3490 E Lake Rd S Suite A