- Where pulp exposure occurs, seek attention from your veterinarian immediately as the tooth may be saved.
- If a tooth falls out of the mouth intact it may be possible for this to be reimplanted by a veterinarian. The tooth should be kept moist – ideally in saline, but if this is not available, low-fat milk can be used).
- Tooth fractures and avulsions are painful and veterinary attention should be sought as soon as possible.
WHAT IS IT?
Each tooth consists of a crown (the part visible above the gum line) and a root or multiple roots (below the gum line). Like any other bone teeth can fracture or break. Occasionally teeth can be knocked completely out of the socket.
In many cases, animals will not exhibit clinical signs. Where they do these include:
- Pain around the mouth
- Bleeding around mouth, muzzle
- Continuous licking
- Inability or unwillingness to eat
- Bad breath
- In some cases you may be able to see the exposed pulp cavity (evident as a red or bleeding spot in the centre of the tooth).
Biting or chewing on a hard object (such as a bone, stick, ice, toys or rocks) – most commonly in dogs, and most commonly causing fractures of the upper fourth premolar or carnassial tooth (sometimes referred to as a “slab” fracture).
Teeth may also be broken during a fight with another animal, or secondary to trauma such as motor vehicle trauma or when an animal sustains fall injuries.
It is normal for deciduous or baby teeth to fall out when animals are teething.
Veterinary treatment involves inspection of the teeth and oral cavity, often under anaesthesia. Dental x-rays may be performed.
Where pulp exposure occurs, the tooth may be saved by a procedure called vital pulp therapy, or by root canal therapy, ideally performed within 48 hours of pulp exposure.
Where a tooth is avulsed it may be reimplanted and splinted.
In many cases, fractured teeth require extraction under general anaesthesia. This is a good opportunity for your veterinarian to check the other teeth and perform a scale and polish.
Antibiotics and pain relief are prescribed as needed.
Gracis M (2009) Tooth displacement injuries. In Clinical Veterinary Advisor Dogs and Cats ed. Etienne Cote. St Louis: Mosby Elsevier, pp1090-1091.
Lewis JR (2009) Tooth fractures. In Clinical Veterinary Advisor Dogs and Cats ed. Etienne Cote. St Louis: Mosby Elsevier, pp1091-1092.