NOTE: I’m not posting pictures with this post because they’re gross. And so is some of the content. Just kidding, there are two pictures of Zozo but they’re from after surgery so there’s no medical stuff in them.
Our 10 year old man needs a bit of a tune up. He has a fatty tumor growing on his chest and a skin tag on his eye lid that’s finally starting to bother him. His breath is terrible. TERR-I-BLE. After consulting with our vet at Caring Hands Animal Hospital, we decide to go ahead with the trifecta of cosmetic surgery: boob job, eye lift and teeth whitening. Well, not exactly a teeth whitening, but a full dental cleaning. We drop him off for his procedures and go about our business, waiting for the pup-date from the vet.
So here’s the thing: remember when Zozo was puppy and I freaked out because he lost his teeth? Since then, we’ve been compulsive about his mouth. We brush his teeth as often as he’ll let us. He gets greenies. He plays with flossing toys. We do our best.
But our best can’t tackle anatomy. Zozo has tiny teeth and big ol’ gums. Food can get stuck and fester, and we can’t help him because he doesn’t show signs of discomfort or show symptoms other than stinky breath. He’s nonchalant about this stuff.
The vet calls. It’s not great, and the Bad Dog Mom soundtrack starts droning in my head, so I can only pick out incidental words: gingivitis, cavities, extractions. Periodontal Disease. Capital P. Capital D. With that, I snap back.
Colgate defines it like this:
“Perio” means around, and “dontal” refers to teeth. Periodontal diseases are infections of the structures around the teeth, which include the gums, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. In the earliest stage of periodontal disease — gingivitis — the infection affects the gums. In more severe forms of the disease, all of the tissues are involved.”
It’s a disease of stages that progresses from sore and potentially bleeding gums (gingivitis), to teeth loss or shifting and bacterial infections. The American Veterinary Dental College says it’s one of the most common ailments in adult dogs and cats that’s totally preventable. Ugh.
Things got away from us and his teeth revolted and we’re terrible parents. The vet reassures me: he’s 10. We made it this far without a formal cleaning. We did our job. Nature interfered.
They’ve done a thorough cleaning and several extractions. 10 extractions. Four upper front teeth, two lower center teeth and four random molars. It’s more than we ever expected. We’ll take turns staying home with him, snuggling and cooing and generally everyone feels miserable about the situation.
He’ll start feeling like himself in 10 days. (10 years. 10 teeth. 10 days). He’s on wet food until his gums heal. He’s had a tumor on his chest removed. His eyelid tag turned out to be a ruptured gland, but there’s no danger for further infection. No stairs for 48 hours. No running for 3-5 days.
Fast forward a year. His style of play has changed, since he can no longer tug and his tennis balls slop out of his mouth instead of securely sticking in his jaw. He hoovers his dry food like a champ, so we’re spared the smell of canned wet food (praise be). And he’s got the cutest “buck tooth” smile.
We’ve had lessons in brushing his teeth. We brush at home 3-5 times per week. We get regular cleanings when he gets groomed. We check his mouth more thoroughly (when he lets us). When his breath is bad, I panic.
But this is ten. I guess.
Epilogue: the tooth fairy did come. She brought peanut butter ice cream and sleeps on bed with dad and a new plushy toy to destroy.