One common problem which pet owners face is that of fractured teeth. Broken, cracked, or chipped teeth can be caused by many things, such as chewing habits or trauma. Pets are more prone to fractured teeth if they chew on objects that are too hard, including 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. What initially appears not to be a problem may have an impact on the their overall health.
A freshly fractured tooth is very painful. The pulp inside the tooth is exposed, and the nerves within the pulp become swollen and inflamed--making it extremely sensitive. Pets show signs of pain in different ways - salivation, refusal to eat or drink, reluctance to chew or play, or even something as subtle as chewing on the opposite side of the mouth.
If not treated in an appropriate and timely manner, a fractured tooth with pulp exposure dies from bacterial contamination. This could eventually spread and affect other areas of the body. The pathology associated with a fractured tooth is not commonly seen on physical exam. Only a small percentage of animals exhibit a swollen face or draining tract, and these are typically in the advanced stage of disease. We highly recommend radiographs (x-rays) of the tooth root and surrounding bone in to accurately evaluate and diagnose any problems associated with the fracture.
There are two options for treating fractured teeth:
1) Extraction of the tooth
2) Root canal (endodontic) therapy
Dr. Battig will discuss the options with you at your consultation, and give you her recommendation as to which choice is best for your pet. We typically recommend root canal therapy for many reasons. It is less traumatic, your pet is able to keep the functionality of 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.
All fractured teeth should be evaluated and treatment options discussed. Early treatment will alleviate discomfort and prevent future complications.
Before Root Canal After Root Canal