This morning as I worked away in Rusty’s mouth, cleaning his teeth and wrestling with his tongue that is honestly about two sizes too big, I thought to myself – Dental cleanings really are like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.
Here’s what was in my dental box of chocolates today.
1. Thick tartar crammed between crooked teeth
2. Gums that bled with the most gentle probing
3. Gingival hyperplasia – this is when gums overgrow as a response to infection and inflammation
4. Furcation exposure – this is a tunnel that forms due to bone loss between the roots of a multi-rooted tooth
5. Gum recession
6. Loose teeth
7. Bad breath
But before I even opened this little furry fellow’s mouth, I had my first surprise. I discovered a very quiet heart murmur immediately after induction of anesthesia. Rusty has had his heart auscultated many times at Brock Street Animal Hospital and no one has ever heard a murmur. In fact, I listened to his heart before sedating him this morning and heard nothing but a nice regular distinct lub dub, lub dub. It’s possible that the murmur is related to anesthetic medications or it may indicate early disease of the heart valves. Many older, small breed dogs have degeneration of one or more of the heart valves. This results in some backward flow of blood with each beat of the heart. The backward flow causes turbulence within the chambers of the heart and creates the fuzzy, whoosh whoosh sound of a murmur.
All the people that love Rusty (and there are lots!), now know to watch for coughing, exercise intolerance and an increase in his sleeping respiratory rate; these are symptoms that could indicate congestive heart disease.
So, today I had a little extra ‘whoosh’ in my box of chocolates but despite the challenges, Rusty went home with a nice clean mouth and as much zest for life as when he arrived this morning!