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This article comes from IOL in New Zealand.
Yankee pet lovers send dentistry to the dogs
By Alexandria Sage
Los Angeles – It’s another day in the dentist’s office. Instruments are whirring and metal braces are being affixed onto shiny white teeth.
Except the patient is a German Shepherd.
Welcome to the office of Anson Tsugawa, one of the 100-plus certified veterinary dentists around the world whose daily routine ranges from cleaning to capping canine teeth, root canals to reconstructing jaws.
The field is growing but little known. Although the first suggestion to pet owners of options such as root canals, bridges or braces is usually met with raised eyebrows, some animal lovers are increasingly embracing procedures that are taken for granted when performed on humans.
“A lot of my friends say, “Wow, do you really do that for dogs?” said Tsugawa, 33, who recently outfitted an English bulldog named Coconutt with a gleaming gold crown on her lower canine tooth.
Tsugawa uses the same dental lab as the popular TV show Extreme Makeover and uses dental instruments designed for humans. He even opts for strawberry-flavored dental paste for his patients – though he admits they probably don’t care.
Today, the specialist leans over Anderl, a year-old, 38kg dog whose two powerful but misaligned lower canine teeth have been boring holes in the roof of his mouth.
Tsugawa carefully squirts adhesive and places tiny stainless-steel braces onto two top teeth, connecting them with an orange rubber band. As the braces slowly move the top teeth into place, an acrylic bite guard affixed to Anderl’s upper canines will guide the lower teeth into the correct position.
Anderl’s owner, Katja Auer, had a number of options – extract the teeth, file them down and cap them, or the work that Tsugawa is now performing that he does a handful of times each year.
“Everybody said, ‘You are crazy! No one does this – this is unheard of,'” laughed Auer, an equine masseuse who will pay $2 000 (about R15 000) for the procedure.
Anderl’s braces are a reflection of the evolving attitudes regarding pet ownership. Spending on pets is expected to reach $38,4-billion in the US this year, with about a tenth going to veterinary care, representing an 8 percent rise in 2005.