Monday, December 29, 2008

Tooth Trouble

About a month ago I noticed a swelling on Savage's gum above his teeth. I originally guessed it was from a sliver of bone that got stuck between tooth and gum, or a chunk of wood from the sticks he's always chewing on. In any case, I assumed it was a foreign object that would work it's way out in time. Only a week ago did I realize it was infected and leaking pus, and I took him to the local vet. She confirmed what I was dreading: the swelling was from an abscessed tooth.
Savvy chipped his right upper canine tooth a long time ago (possibly on a raw pork hock, or one of those beef "pet bones" sold in grocery stores, neither of which I give him anymore), and I didn't realize the importance of having it treated right away. Apparently, though, the fracture exposed the pulp of the tooth, and eventually bacteria found it's way up the root canal. Right now my poor doggie is on what seems to me to be a very high dose of antibiotics; three 375mg tablets of Clavamox (amoxicillin trihydrate/clavulanate potassium) twice a day for a week.
I have an appointment next week with the local vet to discuss further options - root canal surgery or extraction. At this point I'm considering root canal first, since I feel it's important to keep his tooth, and because it's supposed to be less painless for the dog than taking it out. Also, extraction of the canine (fang) tooth is a not a simple surgery, due to the size of the tooth - the root of a canine is almost twice as long as the visible crown. "Pulling" the tooth can have some complications, and I've heard it may even weaken the bone where the root was. On the other hand, getting rid of that tooth altogether will effectively get rid of the problem once and for all. I'm disappointed in myself for not taking the gum swelling seriously because I'm sure Savage is in some pain. Both surgeries can be very expensive but it I feel something should be done as soon as possible. I know that some infections, left untreated, can spread into the bloodstream and lead to heart and kidney problems and beyond.
Making the decision to have him undergo oral surgery is tough, considering possible complications, different anesthesia and sedative medications he's not used to, pain during aftercare, etc. One positive thing is that the oral surgeon may also clean all Savage's teeth at that time, which is fortunate because he seems to have collected a bit of plaque in his 3 years, as evidenced in the first picture of this post. The raw diet generally keeps his teeth looking pretty good, but it would be nice to have them cleaned professionally. Hopefully the Clavamox is destroying the infection right now and easing his pain. I will be posting updates on his dental dilemma along the way.


  1. Piston Engine Princess said...
    Poor old guy...Get well soon Tab.
    Allison (Dog Mom) said...
    Aaw, poor Savage! I know how it is to have a sick puppy. Doggy kisses that he gets better soon!

    Dog Mom
    Behr Behr said...
    Oh no! How crummy is THAT?!?!? Poor Savvy. It's true, dental infections can spread throughout the system...on humans and pets. Keep us posted on how he's doing.

    PS- reading this made me go brush Behr Behr's teeth right then and there. It was a good reminder!

    Behr Behr's mom :)
    Bill said...
    Good luck to you and Savage!

    I hope the best!

    Gunther said...
    I hate to hear this news. I hope that everything works out well. If you haven't all ready done so, I'd go to the Great Dane Club of America and read up on the drugs they suggest for use on Danes during medical proceedures. Hang in there, he will be fine.
    dewdana said...
    Oh no! My Moose recently chipped a tooth ( and because he has not acted any different when chewing or anything I assumed it was ok... back when Savage chipped his did he seem to be bothered by it right after it happened? How long ago did it happen? I assume the fracture has to go to the pulp for it to get infected? Glad to read that he is on the mend! Such a handsome boy!

Post a Comment