Fractured Tooth in Dogs

Overview of Canine Fractured Teeth

Dogs can suffer trauma and get a broken or fractured tooth.

There are three layers to the tooth. The outside layer is a thin layer called the enamel. The second layer is under the enamel consists of a hard substance called dentin. The inside of the tooth is called the dental pulp, which is made up of arteries, veins, nerves and connective tissue.

A tooth can be traumatized in various manners. Tooth trauma and/or a fracture or break can have enamel and dentin missing, pulp exposure with and without bleeding, a dark discolored tooth, a loose tooth or facial swelling over the root of a damaged tooth. Any portion of the root or crown can be broken or damaged. A tooth can even be knocked from its socket (avulsion).

A tooth fracture from chewing is most common, usually from bones, rocks, plastic toys, Frisbees, hooves and rawhide chew toys. Other forms of tooth fracture can be related to hit-by-car incidents, an inadvertent swing from a baseball bat, facial trauma from an active dog running into a hard obstacle or a fractured jaw resulting in tooth fracture. Resorptive lesions can also weaken a tooth leading to fracture. A fracture can occur below the gum line, vertically or horizontally in the tooth. The level at which the root is fractured helps determine if the tooth can be saved.

Fractured teeth are painful even if the dog does not show much pain. The tooth, facial area, jaws and head can be sensitive and painful. The dog can be head shy or purposely avoid having facial or head contact with the owner. He may drop his food while chewing, not pick the food up properly, or chew properly. Difficulty chewing can lead to inadequate nutrition.

What to Watch For

Signs of a fractured tooth in a dog may include:

Diagnosis of a Fractured Tooth in Dogs

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations. A tooth fracture should be treated as an emergency. If there is pulp exposure, then there probably is increased sensitivity and much pain. A pulp exposure may lead to bleeding and then infection of the pulp inside of tooth. The tooth is usually treated for infection and trauma. Diagnostic tests are needed in tooth trauma cases. Tests may include:

Treatment of a Fractured Tooth in Dogs

Treatments for tooth trauma may include one or more of the following:

Home Care

There is no viable home care for a fractured tooth. See your veterinarian for treatment recommendations. If a tooth is completely dislodged from the jaw, place the tooth in whole milk and seek veterinary assistance immediately. Do not scrub or wash the tooth prior to placing in milk.

After treatment, give oral antibiotics and pain medication as directed by your veterinarian. Once the tooth has been treated, avoid giving your dog hard objects to chew, or play toys that require your dog to chew them or pick them up with their teeth.

Preventative Care

Monitor items given to your dog to chew and watch your dog when aggressive play or interactive play occurs. Avoid giving your dog items to chew that may lead to tooth trauma or fracture.

If tooth trauma has occurred, seek treatment immediately. One fluoride treatment of your dog’s teeth in the first 18 months of life will help strengthen the teeth slightly.