Causes of Fractured Teeth
Tooth fractures are caused either by trauma or by chewing rocks, wire fences, cages or other hard objects. Inside each tooth is a passage-way called the “pulp canal.” A tooth fracture may only involve the outer tooth layers (enamel and dentin), but if a break results in loss of the crown of the tooth or goes deeper, the pulp canal can be left open to the mouth and provide an entry point for bacteria. Bacteria from the oral cavity can travel through the opened pulp canal to the tooth root, and from there can gain entry into the surrounding tissues and blood vessels. Through circulation, bacteria can travel throughout the body and cause systemic infection. Usually, however, they remain locally and cause infection in and abscess of the tooth root. If a local infection occurs, or if a heavy impact led to the tooth fracture, the tooth often will lose vitality and die. When a tooth “dies”, its normal white color will turn a dull grayish-brown. Once this happens, the tooth normally is no longer painful for the dog.
Preventing Fractured Teeth
Dogs normally only fracture their teeth by chewing on something hard or having trauma to their face. Prevention of fractured teeth requires preventing these predisposing causes.
If you notice a fractured tooth in your dog’s mouth, please seek veterinary advice. If only a small tooth tip is lost, sometimes a filling of amalgam or acrylic can be used to restore or cap the tooth crown. Metal may be chosen since it withstands canine wear and tear. Sometimes, the tooth can be saved by a root canal. If the tooth is just chipped on the outer surface, your veterinarian may use a dental bur or sander to smooth the sharp margins so that the ragged tooth edges do not cut the dog’s tongue.