I’m going to break up the Dental Care topic into a few posts. I plan to cover the anatomy first, then we’ll move on to keeping teeth healthy. I’ll finish with photos and descriptions of how we perform a dental cleaning. Dental cleanings are now called “COHAT”s — Complete Oral Health Assessment and Treatment.
We’ll start today with Anatomy. Some of the photos are a link to a larger size picture, which is supposed to open in a new window. (Bear with me as I sort out this blog interface.)
This is a Bull Terrier with a pretty normal, healthy mouth. There’s a little bit of tartar (calculus) buildup on the rear upper tooth — it’s a tan/yellow color near the gumline. Notice how the teeth are arranged in a row like a picket fence. On the far side of the upper jaw, you can see that those big rear teeth also have a flat area that’s used for grinding food. The biggest tooth on the upper and lower jaw meet when a dog chews, and those are the main teeth a dog needs to handle dry food.
There is a numbering system for the teeth that we use when we note things in the medical record or on a dental cleaning report. Each tooth has a number, which is much clearer than trying to say “The 4th tooth on the right side.” It’s too confusing to figure out if someone means their right, or the dog’s right, or what. If anyone is interested in that level of detail, there’s a chart right here. You’re looking nose-to-nose with the dog/cat in that picture.
I want to include a picture of a brachycephalic breed’s skull just for comparison. Brachycephalics are dogs like Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Bulldogs, Pugs, and so on. “Brachy” means “short.” This skull is actually not too bad. Many of the brachycephalic breeds we see have teeth that are rotated and stacked in almost sideways. This dog has a pretty impressive underbite.