We at Doctors Pet Clinic recommend annual professional dental cleanings. While this is the case for all pets, it is especially important for small and toy breed dogs due to their high risk of periodontal disease.
As important as the cleaning is, what many people forget is that one of the critical aspects of periodontal disease is the oral exam. This case highlights that this can often find painful and/or infected issues which are even more valuable than the cleaning itself.
An 8 -year-old Shih Tsu was presented for an annual cleaning. We had performed a professional dental cleaning 13 months previous, and the owner was performing routine homecare. Conscious oral exam was unremarkable and revealed no gingivitis and minimal calculus.
During the dental cleaning under general anesthesia, the left maxillary fourth premolar (208) did not have any outward evidence of disease. (Figure 1)
However, oral exam and periodontal probing revealed significant periodontal loss on the palatine aspect of the tooth. (Figure 2)
The significant periodontal loss was confirmed by a dental radiograph. (Figure 3)
Based on the oral exam and dental radiographs, the tooth was surgically extracted, which resulted in a large amount of purulent exudate(infection) being released/removed.
This case confirms the recommendation of annual dental cleanings for maintaining oral health and why most veterinary dentists do not rely on the oral exam to determine the need for professional care. This is especially important in small breed dogs.