Thursday, May 13, 2010

60. Educated young Singaporeans prevent oral diseases

Recently, I had two cases of owners phoning for dental scaling appointments for their dogs. I don't know about other surgeries, but few of my clients in the past bother about preventing mouth ulcers and tumours due to bad oral hygiene.

CASE 1. An 8-year-old Cavalier King Charles would not eat dry food. One of the 3 daughters complained that the dog had bad breath. So the father drove the mum and 2 daughters with the dog to get the dog dental scaling.

I had to extract 3 loose upper side teeth (PM 1 & 2 on Right Upper and PM 1 on Left Upper). Xylazine 2% 0.3 ml IM and isoflurane gas were used to anaesthesize the quiet friendly dog. "For an 8-year-old dog, his teeth are quite clean," I said to the family. "Other dogs of his age would have all teeth dropped out. What do you feed and do you brush his teeth?"

Mum said, "He eats chicken and rice. A little bit of dry food. He does not want to eat by himself and so I have to feed him."

I was surprised as most dogs eat by themselves. Is he a picky eater or because he has a painful mouth. "Do you brush his teeth?" I asked the mum. "I used a towel to clean his teeth but he is not cooperating."

"He should be able to eat dry food now that his loose teeth are extracted and therefore he should not feel any pain."

"But he has been eating chicken meat all these years," the mum said.

"Add a few pieces of dry food to his canned chicken meat for the first week," I advised. "Then increase more and more till he eats dry food. Dry food does clean his teeth. Brush his teeth 3 times a week too. Use the finger brush or the long tooth brush. I will not need to scale his teeth again."

"How long can a dog live?"

"In Singapore, the small breed can live up to 20 years, but in general, most live up to 10-15 years," I said to the happy family with 3 daughters now in their teens. Mum said the Cavalier King Charles was treated by me 8 years ago for diarrhoea. Well, he is now fully grown up and well loved.

As my intern Teresa was assisting me, I told her that the owner had prevented serious heart diseases by getting dental scaling done early. "What heart diseases?"


"How much do you charge for dental scaling?" a male voice asked. "$250 for general anaesthesia and dental scaling," I was answering the phone on this May 2010 Sunday. Asking for quotations is a common practice and so I did not ask whether he would like to make an appointment.

A handsome couple turned up. The lady was slim and as fair as the significant other with muscles was as dark. Both were in their early 30s. The Miniature Schnauzer had thick tartar in all his teeth and took at least 30 minutes of dental scaling unlike my Case 1. Stains and hard tartar enveloped the inside of the teeth. I wondered what the dog had been eating. Probably no teeth brushing.

"Is it not a boring job to be a cabin crew flying from one destination to another and flying back?" I asked the fair lady. She had minimal make up since she was not working and some red rashes showed on her cheeks. Those did not distract from her beauty. "No," she said. "It is an enjoyable job for me. There are hazards to this job."

"What hazards?" I asked, thinking of the air crashes.

"We get varicose veins due to long hours of standing," she showed me her some faint bluish blemish in her knee. Fortunately, the significant other did not get jealous.

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