Dental Care at Sunnyside veterinary Clinic

Articles on a number of dentistry-related topics

We are Leaders in Dog and Cat Dentistry

At Sunnyside Veterinary Clinic, we have always been leaders in veterinary dentistry.  We got our first high-speed handpiece, which allows us to perform surgical extractions, way back in the early 2000's!  We've had dental x-rays for over 10 years.  Dr. Nield has taken countless hours in continuing education in dentistry.  Our equipment and training allow us to take great care of your pets teeth.


We know that periodontal disease robs years from your pet's life.

Periodontal Disease robs more years from your pet's life than any other disease condition, and we believe in doing all we can to keep your pets and their mouths healthy and happy for a long time.


We aslo take great care to manage pain as well.

Not ony do we do advanced dentistry and oral surgery, we also take great care to manage the pain that can be associated with dental procedures.  We are big believers in Pre-emptive Pain Management, which provides a much higher level of pain relief than just taking some pills after the procedure is all over.  Click here for more information.  Click here for an article on How to Tell if Your Pet is in Pain.


Some Articles on Dental Care

Below are some articles and links on dental care.

Broken Teeth

A very common finding, broken teeth are a very painful and often untreated problem for many dogs. Here's some help in understanding what the problem is and what to do about it.

Lots of dogs have broken teeth. Often, the owners had no idea the tooth was broken, and the dog seemed fine. Sometimes the owners knew it was broken, but it had been broken for years and didn't seem to bother their dog any. We know that if it was our tooth, it would be painful, but many dogs with broken teeth do not seem to show any signs at all of pain.

Science tells us that our dog's teeth and nervous system are identical to ours. The teeth are put together in the same way, with a layer of ultra-hard enamel over a layer of softer dentin , all surrounding the pulp chamber which is full of nerves. If you have ever had the experience of having the dentist drill your tooth before the anesthetic took full effect, you will immediately appreciate the fact that teeth are a living bodypart with a very sensitive nerve supply.

Broken Teeth also are prone to infection. The pulp chamber is opened, and this allows bacteria to enter the tooth, causing an abscess. In the image at the top of this page, an abscess (the dark spot) can be seen draining out of the gum above the tooth.

To sum up, short-tern, a newly-broken tooth is very painful. Long-term, the pain decreases to a dull ache. And many broken teeth become abscessed. None of these situations are good, so we recommend that all broken teeth be removed.
So why don't many dogs show signs of pain?

The answer is complex. Click here for an article on Pets in Pain, which gives the long answer. The short answer is that nature has taught animals to hide their pain rather than show it. The signs of pain that they do show are often subtle, and are often not noticed by owners until after the source of pain is removed.

If your pet has a broken tooth, the best thing to do is have it removed. Your pet will feel better, and a source of chronic infection will be removed. Root Canal therapy is the only other option.

Retained Baby Teeth

Puppies are a lot like babies. They are both cute, they both whine a lot, and they both have a set of baby teeth which are later shed so a new set of permanent teeth can grow in their place. We call the baby teeth "deciduous" teeth, because they are shed like the leaves on a deciduous tree. Most of the time this process proceeds without hitch. However, occasionally, some of the deciduous teeth will be retained, or not shed, and this can cause problems.

Almost exclusively this happens to the large canine teeth. Sometimes both top baby canines will be retained. Sometimes all four are retained. It is most likely to happen in the small breeds: Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terries, Poodle, Lhasa Apso, Bichon Frise, etc.

In the image to the right, the thin, sharp deciduous canine tooth can be seen behind the larger, rounder adult canine tooth.

The retained teeth can cause problems in two ways. One is that the retained tooth interferes with the proper eruption of the adult teeth. The adult teeth can erupt too medially and hit on the sensitive soft tissues of the hard palate, causing sores or fistulas. More commonly, the retained baby teeth trap food and debris, and promote plaque and tartar formation, leading to periodontal disease which can destroy both the baby tooth and the adult tooth. In the previous image, the sharp eye can see a brown discoloration between the two teeth. This is tartar and periodontal disease.

The retained teeth are supposed to be shed at six months. I generally wait a few months longer to see if they won't come out on their own. After that, they need to be extracted. These teeth, although they look small, can be very difficult to extract. They often have very long, thin roots which can fracture easily. It is bad to leave a broken root tip. The retained teeth are also very close to the new adult teeth. At this early stage of their development, the adult teeth have very thin walls and are quite delicate. They can easily be punctured by the extraction instruments and permanently damaged.

Extracting deciduous teeth requires general anesthesia. It is a good idea to plan the extractions to be done at the same time as your puppy's spay or neuter surgery.