Pet owners frequently bring pets with fractured teeth to the veterinary dental specialists at Animal Dental Clinic. Broken, cracked, or chipped teeth can be caused by a pet’s chewing habits or trauma. Pets are more prone to fractured teeth if they chew on objects that are too hard, such as antlers, bones, hooves, rocks, nylon bones, and even cage or kennel bars. Examples of trauma include catching sticks, playing frisbee, or being hit by a car. Dental specialists know that even a minor fracture in a tooth can have a major impact on a pet’s overall health and well-being.
A freshly fractured tooth is very painful. When the pulp inside the tooth is exposed, the nerves within the pulp become inflamed and extremely sensitive. Pets show signs of pain in different ways: salivation, refusal to eat or drink, reluctance to chew or play, or even subtle changes like chewing on the opposite side of the mouth. If not treated in an appropriate and timely manner, all fractured teeth with pulp exposure die from bacterial contamination. This bacterial infection eventually spreads into the surrounding bone, and can spread to other areas of the body. Only a small percentage of animals exhibit a swollen face or draining tract, and these are typically in the advanced stage of disease. Most complications associated with a fractured tooth, however, are not commonly seen on physical exam. At Animal Dental Clinic, we highly recommend radiographs (x-rays) of all fractured teeth to accurately diagnose disease associated with the tooth roots and surrounding bone, and to provide owners with the best treatment options for their pet.
Our specialists will discuss these options with you at your consultation, and provide our recommendation as to which treatment is best for your pet. As a dental specialty practice, we frequently offer root canal therapy. It is less traumatic than surgical extraction, and your pet is able to continue to use the affected tooth (as well as that on the opposite side). If your pet is still young (between 6-16 months of age), a vital pulpotomy may also be an option. Please see our Vital Pulpotomy page for more information.
If there is no apparent pulp exposure, our team will assess the comfort of your pet’s tooth, the proximity of the fracture to the pulp canal, and make a plan based on the exam. If the fracture is recent and close to the pulp without exposure, we may recommend a restorative procedure. Restoratives will reduce sensitivity and may prevent further damage.
All fractured teeth should be evaluated by a dental specialist for treatment planning. Early treatment will alleviate discomfort, prevent infection and avoid any future complications.