Veterinary Dental Radiography Solves the Mystery

Veterinary Dentistry

Dr. Woodward with McKinley during diagnosis and treatment of chronic drainage tract in jaw.

Dr. Woodward had a very interesting case on his hands with McKinley, one of the many Gray Wolves, rescued and living at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, MT.

For some time, Discovery Center staff had noticed that Mckinley had a chronic draining tract under the right side of his jaw and Dr. Woodward’s visit was the perfect opportunity to further examine and treat the condition.

Visible drainage under McKinley's jaw.

Visible drainage under McKinley’s jaw.

As with any patient Dr. Woodward sees, there is far more to diagnosing and treating a condition that looking at the problem from surface. Upon the initial oral examination, McKinley’s right lower canine tooth appeared to be normal. But, we all know that appearances aren’t everything, and the next step was performing dental radiographs or X-rays, to see what was going on beneath the wolf’s gumline.

Veterinary dental radiograph revealed a large area of root and bone damage around this tooth, which was the source of the drainage tract.

Veterinary dental radiograph showed damage beneath the gumline.

This is an excellent illustration of the value of veterinary dental radiographs, not just in exotic patients, but in every pet patient. In Mckinley’s case, the radiographs revealed that the tooth was dead and that there was a large area of root and bone damage around this tooth, which was the source of the drainage tract. It had become so severe that it finally started draining from under his lower jaw. Unfortunately, the damage to the tooth was too severe to allow root canal therapy and the tooth was extracted.

Veterinary Dentistry Chronic Drainage Tract

After the tooth was extracted an instrument could go through the tooth socket to the outside to the area that had been draining.

Mckinley, now completely recovered, is in far better health and now able to roam the Discovery Center pain free.