Understanding Tooth Fractures In Dogs
Tooth fractures are a relatively common dental injury in dogs and typically occur due to chewing on hard objects, such as bones or rocks, or as a result of trauma. Fractures can damage the enamel on a tooth's crown or the root below the gum line. If left untreated, a fractured tooth can allow bacteria to infect the dentin, which is the soft tissue surrounding the root, and cause an abscess to form. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for tooth fractures in dogs:
Some tooth fractures are easy to spot when you are cleaning your dog's teeth, while others can be difficult for the untrained eye to see. Common symptoms of a tooth fracture include localised gum inflammation, chipped enamel, blood or pink tissue showing on the tooth from the pulp canal, loss of appetite and pain, which may present as irritability, pawing at the mouth and an unwillingness to be petted or to play.
To diagnose a tooth fracture, your vet will conduct a thorough oral exam and take X-rays to determine the extent of the damage and the health of the tooth root and surrounding tissue. If there are signs of infection around the gum line, your vet may swab the area to establish the strain of bacteria present, which will allow them to create a targeted treatment plan to eradicate the infection. A blood sample may also be taken to check your dog's inflammatory markers and organ function before carrying out any treatment.
Treatment for a tooth fracture depends on the severity of the injury. A small fracture can be treated by applying a sealing agent to the affected tooth to close the fracture and keep bacteria away from the root. A dental crown can also be used to repair a minor fracture, and the crown will be secured with a strong dental bonding agent. If the tooth pulp is infected, your dog may have to undergo a root canal procedure to clean out the bacteria, but they should be able to keep the affected tooth. When an infection is present, antibiotics are typically necessary, too. A severely damaged tooth will need to be extracted and the gum tissue will be sealed with stitches to prevent infection. During treatment and recovery, your dog will have to be fed a diet of soft foods only, and your vet will provide guidance and support in this area to ensure their nutritional needs are being met.
If your dog has a visible tooth fracture or is displaying symptoms associated with a tooth fracture, schedule an urgent appointment with your local vet clinic.