Woody is a Pekinese mix of undeterminable age. Although he has a puppy’s spunk his mouth is that of a more mature dog’s. In fact, his teeth are so worn and crooked they allow his tongue to loll lovably outside his mouth—always to the left. 

Woody had been found only weeks before wandering a neighborhood nearby. One of our clients, recently bereft of her beloved Bogey, adopted him just last week.  She had, by this time, fallen madly in love with Woody.

But Woody has a wandersome streak his provenance should have predicted. After his mom went to work on Friday morning, Woody took himself for a walk—out a doggie door and under a fence, down the driveway and into the street. Before he knew what hit him, Woody had strayed headlong into an oncoming car.

24 hours later, Woody is ensconced in a comfy kennel. A splint on one leg and a cast (of sorts) on his jaw, he’s patiently waiting for his mom to come pick him up.

Woody had been extremely lucky. Aside from a broken ulna (forelimb bone) and a fractured jaw, all he had to show for his car trouble was a scrape on the top of his head.

The ulna fracture was an easy one: It was cracked but not splintered or displaced from its proper position. No surgery—just a stable splint.

The jaw-break was another story. This was an open (bleeding) fracture midway through the mandible (lower jaw) between several very poorly anchored teeth. Because his Pekinesey dentition was so abnormal, as it is in most short-nosed breeds, fixing the fracture was going to take more than just wire, as it goes with most similar injuries to the lower jaw.

Ideally, I would have made a bridge with the wire, connecting teeth on one side of the break to the other. But Woody had few visible teeth above the gumline. This made my conventional approach impossible. So I tried a new one:

First I placed a series of stainless steel wire circles around his jaw and teeth in a figure-eight pattern encompassing the fracture site. While these secured the area somewhat, I could still move the jaw a little on either side of the breaking point. Not good enough.

Next, I made a series of stainless steel circles around the jawbone on either side of the break. I then hooked them to one another across the break. Still not perfect, but the two sets of wire made for a more stable repair. Nonetheless, I was worried he’d have continuous pain with every chew if I didn’t get better stability. Plus, now there was all this exposed wire in his mouth. Not good enough.

Finally, at my colleague’s suggestion, I placed an acrylic-like material over the entire mess of teeth, gums and wire. This hardened nicely. I was surprised by how much more stable the apparatus became with this extra material. I think we came up with a new one. If you`re careful, every patient will teach you something new.

Thank you, Woody! I hope you don’t mind if I refer to you as my most jaw-inspiring patient ever!