Broken or Fractured Teeth

Posted on June 12, 2015

Whether it’s their favorite toy, a delicious piece of bone or the random piece of furniture around the house, dogs are well known for their inherent tendency to chew on things and are often afflicted with either fractured or broken teeth as a result.  While some fractures maybe limited to the enamel or dentin; the outer surfaces of the teeth; others may extend to the pulp, which contains the nerves and blood vessels supplying nutrients to the tooth.  In either case, the level of damage can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort to the canine and may even affect its ability to eat.  In extreme cases, dogs may even experience a dramatic drop in activity level as the pain may become unbearable and difficult to tolerate.

Uncomplicated and complicated fractures both require a thorough examination performed preferably under anesthesia.  Application of anesthesia does not only provide a greater level of comfort to the dog, but more importantly reduces any risk of injury to the examining veterinarian.  In addition to simple visual examination of the teeth, veterinarians also rely heavily on the benefits of dental x-ray and can accurately diagnose the level of the damage as it may have extended to the roots of the tooth.

The application of an adhesive resin-bonding agent to the dentin, the porous outer layer of teeth can easily repair simpler and more uncomplicated fractures.  Damage inflicted beyond the dentin and into the root of the teeth however requires more invasive procedures known as vital pulp or root canal therapy.  The amount of time elapsed from the initial origin of damage can be a differentiating factor in the use of vital root therapy versus root canal therapy.  Failure to locate and treat the damaged tooth within the first 48 hours can lead to the accumulation of bacteria in the root and thus necessitate root canal therapy to essentially kill the tooth.

Other modes of treatment include tooth extraction, providing the dog with permanent relief from pain and future complication.  While tooth extraction may be viewed as a simpler and safer mode of therapy due to its less technical nature, it may in some instances affect the dog’s ability to chew certain foods as the tooth’s functionality is completely eliminated.  Frequent visits and dental examinations by your veterinarian can assure early recognition of any dental damage and prolong the health and happiness of your four-legged best friend.