Bio: Female Boxer
Sophie is a 5-year-old female Boxer who came in for a dental cleaning and to surgically remove her gingival hyperplasia. Gingival hyperplasia is when the gums overgrow for many reasons. One possible reason is a reaction to a medication, the most common of which is cyclosporine. Other causes are infection and response to bacteria on the teeth, chronic inflammation from dental disease, and genetics. Boxers are a breed that is well known for developing this condition without any of the predisposing factors.
The Diagnosis: Gingival Hyperplasia
The only treatment for gingival hyperplasia is to remove it surgically. One consideration for suspected gingival enlargement is not to forget the other possibilities. Single area enlargement can be hyperplasia (overgrowth of healthy tissue) or can be abnormal growth of tissue (cancer). Histopathology of the tissue removed is always recommended to make sure the process seen is genuinely a benign lesion.
After the Gingival Hyperplasia was removed, we began the dental cleaning process. Similarly, like human dentists, we scale the teeth to remove plaque and tartar and then polish them to create a smooth finish to slow the accumulation of tartar in the future. During the procedure, dental radiographs were performed on the teeth. All of the teeth looked healthy from the outside, but to our surprise on the x-rays, we uncovered a fractured root on one of the top molars. This was a complete incidental finding. There were no concerns with Sophie at home or how she ate, and it did not seem to affect her daily life at all. However, if this tooth was not dealt with it could cause problems in the future most likely with a tooth root abscess. During the extraction of the tooth, the fractured root was found to be discoloured, an indication that the source was dead and possibly on its way to becoming infected. This shows how necessary dental x-rays are when completing a dental oral exam. It is like going to the mechanic with your car and asking them what is wrong or right with the car without looking under the hood or the under the car, it is impossible to know. The cause of the fracture is not known in this case. Her owner reported that she does not chew on hard items like antlers, rocks, bones or hard chew toys which are the most likely culprits in most cases. This is why we do not recommend using these types of chew item for dogs as the chances of fracturing teeth dramatically increases.
Thankfully in Sophie’s case, we found a problem, and we were able to deal with it before it became an issue. We removed the large three rooted molars, and she recovered very well from surgery. Contrary to what many people believe dogs live very well with missing or no teeth at all.They adapt and will live better and healthier lives without the discomfort of infected teeth.
- This is what the Crown (visible above the gum line) looked like, to the naked eye it looks like a normal tooth.
- This is the initial x-ray where we uncovered the fractured root. This is a three rooted molar and the arrows indicated the fracture.
- Dental surgery after the tooth has been removed.
4. The final product after the removal.
Thank you to Sophie for letting us share her story and the importance of dental x-rays!
You can book a dental consult with one of our doctors by calling us at 905-855-2100, we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even on Christmas and Boxing Day!
Written by Jenna, RVT & Jessica, DVM