Wild animals that are in captivity can have many of the same dental conditions as people. On this week’s episode of Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet: Moose on the Loose, Dr. Oakley finds herself with her hands in a few animals’ mouths. Animals can have orthodontic abnormalities, fractured teeth, and even painful cavities just like us. Using similar tools to a human dentist, Dr. Oakley is able to get her charges smiling again.
Dr. Oakley’s first dental case involves a reindeer with “chipmunk cheeks.” Although the condition sounds cute, it actually means big trouble for the animal. Food becomes impacted between the teeth and cheek instead of making it into the stomach, causing the reindeer’s face to swell. The food then rots in the mouth and the reindeer can slowly starve.
First Dr. Oakley has to clear out the food and then try to figure out the underlying problem. Looking at the teeth, she finds some sharp edges that might be causing the problem. Sometimes when an animal’s teeth are a little off in alignment, it can cause points on the tooth. So Dr. Oakley gets out her trusty file and files down the ridges on the teeth until they are perfectly smooth.
Dr. Oakley’s next adventure in dental care involves a porcupine. Porcupines are rodents, so they have rodent incisor teeth at the front which continue to grow. Normally, porcupines can wear down their teeth all on their own, but Peggy Sue the porcupine was hit by a car which caused a misalignment of her jaw. When the teeth don’t line up correctly, they grow in funky ways. And as Dr. Oakley points out, “No one wants funky teeth.” So she fixes the problem by cutting the teeth down. There actually isn’t a whole lot of sensitivity in the tip of porcupine teeth. All the same, Peggy Sue is sedated and given pain control so that she doesn’t feel anything during the process. It’s very relaxing trip to the dentist!
Does Your Pet Need Dental Care?
According to the American Animal Hospital Association, dental care is very important for our own pets as well, and an essential component of a preventative healthcare plan. In their 2013 guidelines the organization states, “Quality dental care is necessary to provide optimum health and quality of life. If left untreated, diseases of the oral cavity are painful and can contribute to other local or systemic diseases.”
In addition to preventative exams watch for the following signs of a problem:
- Bad breath
- Swollen face
- Chronic eye problems
- Sneezing and nasal discharge
- Rubbing face
- Dropping food when eating
- Abnormal chewing
- Not eating
We can’t all have Dr. Oakley out to our homes, but if you see any these signs, it might be time to get to a veterinarian who has experience with animal dentistry. Luckily for the animals in the Yukon, Dr. Oakley is out there to give them a helping hand.
Tune in to this week’s episode of Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet: Moose on the Loose on Saturday December 27 at 9PM et/pt!