One interesting fact about dogs is that they don’t get cavities. Unfortunatley for the dog, they can break their teeth. A dog with a broken tooth requires special care.
It is very common for a dog to break or facture a tooth. This can happen because of trauma or because Fido decided to try chewing on a hard object. While they can break any tooth, it is most likely to break a canine (fang) tooth or an upper fourth premolar (one of the large teeth on the top in the back of the dog’s mouth).
When a dog breaks it's teeth, they usually break either vertically or horizontally below the gum line.
What To Watch For
Since your dog can’t tell you that it broke a tooth, you have to watch for signs that it has a broken tooth. You may see changes in the tooth’s shape, color or position. The dog’s face may swell, it may show pain or it may be reluctant to eat its food – especially hard or fibrous food.
Why It’s Important To Treat A Broken Tooth
When a dog’s tooth has been fractured, bacteria from its mouth can gain access to the pulp (root) and infect the tooth. If the tooth is not treated, it will eventually die. The bacteria can then leak out and infect the jawbone. Eventually, the bacterial byproducts and white blood cell enzymes will cause bone destruction around the tip of the tooth’s root. The blood vessels in the infected area will pick up the bacteria and spread it to other areas of the body; specifically to the liver and kidneys and even to the dog’s heart valves. Over time, this can have a very harmful effect on these organs.
How To Treat A Dog With A Broken Tooth
Unfortunately, there is no viable way to treat a dog with a fractured tooth at home. This means you will have to get them to your veterinarian for treatment recommendations.
If the tooth has been completely dislodged from the dog’s mouth, you need to place it in whole milk to preserve it and take Fido and the tooth to the vet immediately. Be sure to not scrub or wash it before placing it in the milk. The sugar compounds in the milk will keep it alive for a short period of time, so take the dog and the tooth to the vet as quickly as you can.
Desensitize A Broken Tooth
It is not possible for you to desensitize your dog's broken tooth at home. However, if only the tooth’s dentin (the layer of calcified tissue that lies between the tooth’s enamel and its pulp) has been exposed, and not the pulp itself, your vet can use a fluoride or bonding sealant to desensitize it. When the tooth first breaks, the nerves in the tooth’s pulp will be exposed and this will be very painful for your pet. However, these nerves slowly die over a few weeks to a few months.
Treatment Options For A Dog With A Broken Tooth
There are only four viable treatment options for a dog with a broken tooth.
First, you can ignore the problem. As noted above, the dog’s pain will eventually go away. This is not what a responsible pet owner would do nor is this what your vet would recommend as a broken tooth can eventually lead to other, more serious problems.
Second, if you found the tooth intact and placed it in whole milk, you can take it to your vet who may be able to re-implant it.
Third, the vet may be able to save the tooth by doing a root canal. In this procedure, the vet removes the infected pulp (nerves and vessels within the tooth), cleans and removes infection within the tooth and fills the root canal system with inert materials that won't support the growth of bacteria. This treatment is considered to be superior to extraction in almost all cases.
And finally, if your dog's broken tooth is to severely damaged to be saved, the only option is to extract it.
A Dog With A Broken Tooth Is A Serious Challenge
A dog with a broken tooth presents a serious challenge to the pet owner. But, as you have read, proper dental care for your dog can prevent your pet from experiencing weeks or months of pain and can even save the broken tooth – which is the best possible outcome for your dog.
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