A Gapped-Tooth Smile

January 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Two nights ago, as we walked Maple to her crate for some shut eye, she began to lick her mouth area vigorously and, seconds later, spat out a tooth. MM and I stared in shock at the tooth, as fear and worry crept up our spines. MM picked up the tooth with a paper towel and we inspected it closely. There was blood and tissue under the socket of the tooth, but there was no root in sight—how strange, I thought. Maple seemed oblivious to the gap in her mouth and fell soundly to sleep.

That night, my sleeping pattern was interrupted several times as I tossed and turned with thoughts spinning in every direction. Is Maple in pain? How did her tooth fall out—was it by nature or by accident? Will she contract an infection in the wound? Can Maple continue to eat her dry kibbles, or should we water it down?


The next morning, I woke up groggy-eyed and made an appointment with Maple’s veterinarian. We sealed Maple’s tooth in a ziplock bag and transported it with us to the clinic. While waiting for our turn, Maple had a glum look on her face. It was clear to us and the friendly folks at the Allpets & Aqualife Clinic that Maple was not a very happy camper. Poor Maple—she wasn’t even interested in socializing with a fellow patient at the clinic.


We were finally called in to see Dr Chua who greeted Maple with a wide smile and pleasant demeanor. This was  our second visit to Allpets & Aqualife Clinic and our first time having a consultation with Dr Chua; Maple, however, is no stranger, as her previous owner had been bringing Maple here ever since she was a pup. Dr Chua confirmed that the fallen tooth is a pre-molar milk tooth, and explained that the root of the milk tooth dissolves as the permanent adult tooth grows out.

[Note: The following two images of the canine anatomy were sourced from the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine website. The section on Pet Health Topics provides general information about dog healthcare and includes illustrated instructions on DIY procedures such as how to trim nails and administer medication. I find this website to be an indispensible resource and will likely refer to it when I need to read-up on a common health issue.] 

All of Maple’s adult teeth have fully grown out, so we won’t have to expect any more milk teeth to go missing. On the downside, we learnt that Maple has retained four milk canines despite the eruption of all four adult ones. Surgical removal can be performed but Dr Chua informed us that, with good dental hygiene, Maple can live perfectly fine with the extra set of canines. Looks like we’ll have to be very disciplined in brushing Maple’s teeth more regularly from now on!


In addition to Maple’s dental examination, we also inquired about Maple’s anal sacs. We recently noticed Maple scooting on her bum and knew that the fluids in her anal sacs were not being fully secreted after each bowel movement. Dr Chua demonstrated how we can help aid the process by placing our thumb and index finger just outside the entrance of the anus—at approximately the four o’clock and eight o’clock position—then squeeze gently. Maple’s bum proved to be a bit more of a challenge, so Dr Chua had to manually go in with a gloved finger. After having been so quiet and co-operative the entire time, Maple buckled under the stress and let out a little yelp. We were so thankful for the procedure to be over!


The last and final ordeal of the day was ear-cleaning. We were told that Maple has an ear yeast infection due to the accumulation of wax. The kind staff on duty helped us to remove most of the unpleasant residue from both of Maple’s ears and applied a medicated ointment to treat the infection. We were instructed to use Johnson’s Baby Oil and cotton swabs to gently clean out Maple’s ears every week so as to maintain good ear health.

I have read of other methods that employ the use of commercial ear washes and rinses, homemade vinegar solutions, and plucking of ear hairs. MM and I feel most comfortable with the Johnson’s Baby Oil and cotton swab combination and will likely follow the advice of Maple’s veterinarian. Now that Maple’s ears are squeaky clean, she should be able to hear us better when we call out her name!

And here is Maple, back at home, proudly standing by her milk tooth…

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