The Challenges of Being a Boxer

 "Hi, I'm beautiful, no big deal."

"Hi, I'm beautiful, no big deal."

This is Taya! Taya is a 6 month old Boxer puppy who has been captivating all of us with her beautiful brown eyes. My favourite thing about Boxers is how their wag starts at the base of their neck and involves their entire body wiggling side to side with joy. Like most Boxers, Taya is an excellent wiggler.

Boxers are unfortunately prone to a myriad of dental problems, so when they come in for exams or surgery, we're always very careful to check their mouths for abnormalities or signs of disease that could cause problems later on.

During Taya's exam, we discovered that she had a couple of issues that caused us concern. The most serious concern was that Taya had teeth missing from the places we expected to find them. Unerupted teeth are a common problem in Boxers, and can lead to catastrophic complications.

 Arrows are showing wounds in the soft tissue created by the incisors of the upper jaw

Arrows are showing wounds in the soft tissue created by the incisors of the upper jaw

This is a view of Taya's mouth from the side. She has an underbite (mandibular prognathism), which means that her upper jaw is shorter than her lower jaw. There's an arrow pointing to her upper incisors - ideally these should be in front of her lower incisors. Because her upper jaw is shorter than it should be, some of her upper incisors are digging into the soft tissue of her lower jaw (see picture). As well, she is missing a premolar on each side of her lower jaw - there is another arrow showing where this tooth should have erupted. This tooth is commonly missing in Boxers, so it's an important parameter to check on every Boxer puppy. Teeth that are formed but do not erupt through the gum tissue can potentially form fluid filled cysts called dentigerous cysts that destroy the integrity of the jaw bone. The next next two images show a dentigerous cyst found in the lower jaw of an adult boxer, where the missing teeth unfortunately weren't detected while the dog was a puppy. The unerupted tooth is outlined in green, and the borders of the cyst are outlined in red.

 "You're saying my jaw could BREAK if we don't extract those teeth?"

"You're saying my jaw could BREAK if we don't extract those teeth?"

As you can see, the cyst has destroyed most of the bone in this area of the jaw, and what little bone is left is thin and delicate like eggshell. These jaws are very weak and prone to breakage. Trying to repair a broken jaw in a dog where most of the bone has been destroyed by a cyst is very challenging, so removing these teeth before they become a problem is critically important.

 

 

This is an x-ray of one of Taya's missing teeth. While they're not visible when looking into Taya's mouth, they're easy to see on x-ray. It took less than five minutes to extract this tooth and close the surgical site. Repair of a fractured jaw can easily take over an hour and is substantially more costly.

Taya recovered well from her procedure and is enjoying her new and improved mouth.