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Fractured and Broken Teeth in Pets

Fractured and broken teeth can occur within the life of a pet and are more commonly seen in dogs than cats. The tooth is a strong organ comprised of pulp, dentin, enamel, and cementum. Enamel covers dentin above the gum line. Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body--stronger than bone--but it is still susceptible to fracture. As your local veterinary dentist in Colorado Springs, our practice Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery has some insight as to what can cause fractured and broken teeth in pets.

Broken and Chipped Enamel

People can chip a tooth just by chewing on ice cubes, and we have 5-10 times more enamel than dogs and cats! So it’s surprising that dogs don't have more fractured teeth after one simply peruses through marketed chew toys and treats at a local pet store! Objects and products that are commonly responsible for breaking pet teeth include bones, antlers, rocks, large sticks, metal objects, and large rawhide chews. Unfortunately, the enamel of your four-legged friend is not regenerative, and once it is broken, no additional enamel will be made.

Types of Tooth Fractures

There are two types of tooth fractures seen in dogs and cats. These include fractures without pulp exposure and those with pulp exposure.  

Uncomplicated crown fractures are tooth fractures without pulp exposure. in these fractures, the enamel is broken with underlying dentin exposed to the oral cavity. Dentin exposure is painful for your pet, since it contains nerve fibers that connect to the pulp cavity. Dentin does have a reparative capacity after a fracture, but this can take weeks to months.

Complicated crown fractures involve direct pulp exposure. This type of tooth fracture is very painful for the pet and must be treated promptly to minimize pain and infection of surrounding dental tissues.

Treatment for Fractured and Broken Teeth in Pets

Treatment for fractured teeth is dependent on three things: pulp exposure, time since the fracture took place and evaluation of dental radiographs (x-rays).

Uncomplicated crown fractures (dentin exposure) can be treated with a bonded sealant procedure. The fracture site is first smoothed, since its rough surface will act as a plaque retentive surface allowing more oral bacteria to propagate. After smoothing, the site is prepared by etching and application of a bonding agent and unfilled resin, which will protect the fracture site while dentin hopefully continues to repair itself. The applied barrier seals off the dentin tubules from oral bacteria and further inflammation.

Complicated crown fractures (pulp exposure) must be treated with either surgical extraction or root canal therapy. Root canal procedures are performed by board certified veterinary dentists. The infected pulp is removed and the pulp canal disinfected and sealed with a dental filling material. The tooth is not alive after root canal therapy, but the source of pain and infection is removed. A tooth treated with root canal therapy retains much of its structure and function and is able to help a pet chew food and play with toys. Tooth extraction is an alternative treatment to root canal therapy in teeth that are not strategically important for chewing/play function or that have advanced stages of periodontal disease.  

Choose Appropriate Chew Toys

Any tooth can become fractured. In dogs, the most commonly fractured teeth include the canines (fangs) and upper carnassial teeth. In cats, the upper canine teeth are the most commonly fractured. It is important to look at your pet’s teeth daily when providing oral home care. Choosing an appropriate chew toy can also be overwhelming when at a pet store or perusing online. When you’re searching for good information on choosing dental products that will benefit rather than harm teeth, visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council website. There you’ll find accepted products for your pets oral health. If you have any remaining questions or are looking for a veterinary dentist in Colorado Springs, Co., call us today at (719)536-9949!

 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (1/26/19) Pixaby 

 

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