Dogs with fractured or broken teeth are relatively frequent visitors to the veterinary office. In many cases, the cause of the fracture is because of the dog chewing on hard objects such as bones or rocks. Trauma or injury can also cause a dog’s tooth to become fractured or broken.
Signs of a Broken Tooth
Signs of a broken tooth are not always easy to notice. If the affected tooth is one of the large canines at the front of the mouth, a break is more obvious. Because these injuries can be painful, a dog may be reluctant to eat their food. They may prefer soft, wet food over dry food, and leave kibble untouched in their bowl. They may be distracted and not perform well during their regular dog training. Dogs are stoic creatures and in many cases, you won’t even see any changes in their eating habits or behavior.
The Results of a Tooth Fracture
When a dog’s tooth breaks, the pulp may become exposed. This will almost certainly cause some bleeding, but you may not notice that. Because the nerve of the pulp is exposed, the tooth will be very painful to the touch. Eventually, the nerve will die on its own and the pain will subside. However, this process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
The biggest concern is that bacteria can enter the hole in the tooth and cause infection or inflammation. Once again, the tooth will become painful and your dog will have a difficult time eating as he normally would. If left untreated, the tooth may eventually fall out but this can take years to complete. All the while, your dog will remain in pain and infections are always a possibility.
Dog owners have two treatment options open should their dog experience a fractured or broken tooth: Endodontic therapy or extraction.
· Endodontic therapy: This may consist of either pulp removal with a cap or root canal therapy. This is a service that the average veterinarian does not offer simply because it requires specialized knowledge and equipment. To have this procedure done, you’ll need to be referred to a specialist veterinary dentist. If there isn’t a dentist nearby, you will need to factor in the cost of travel when you’re considering having this done.
· Extraction: This is a common treatment option and one that your own veterinarian can perform. It provides immediate results so your dog will soon be showing his normal canine behavior; it is also more affordable and is relatively easy to perform. While there are cases where extraction is the best option, there are some risks that need to be considered. Fractured jaws, bleeding, infection and damage to neighboring teeth are the possible side effects of extraction, however these are rare.
Regardless of which treatment option you are considering, your veterinarian will offer you all the options and give you as much information as you need to make the right decision. It is important to not only consider the cost of the procedure, but more importantly, consider the needs of your canine friend. Whatever you do, don’t leave a broken tooth untreated because it can cause ongoing pain and discomfort to your much loved canine family member.