Dog Broken Tooth

Medical review by K9 Healthcare Council of America (K9HCA). Intended for educational purposes only. Always seek medical advice from your veterinarian.

Dog Broken Tooth: Causes, Care, & Consequences

As a dog owner, one of the more unforeseen issues you may encounter is having a dog with a broken or fractured tooth. Even though dental problems in dogs are relatively common, a broken tooth can be cause for discomfort and health issues if left untreated.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the causes of broken teeth in dogs, how to identify if your dog has a broken tooth, the symptoms to watch out for, the cost of care, and the crucial difference between a chipped tooth and a broken tooth.

We will conclude by emphasizing the severe consequences of ignoring a fractured tooth in your furry companion.

Causes of Broken Tooth

Understanding the causes of a broken tooth in dogs is the first step in preventing this painful condition.

In dogs, fractured teeth are most often caused by chewing on inappropriately hard objects, such as elk antlers or marrow bones, but can also be the result of trauma.

Chipped dog tooth
A chipped dog tooth is usually caused by blunt trauma or hard chew toys. When dogs chew on toys or bones that are harder than their own teeth, they’re putting a lot of tension on their teeth causing fracture or breaks. Hard toys include bones, antlers, Benebones, or rigid plastic toys.

Dogs use their teeth for various purposes, including chewing, playing, and biting, making them susceptible to dental injuries.

Here are some common causes of broken teeth in dogs:

Trauma or Accidents

One of the primary causes of broken teeth in dogs is trauma or accidents. Dogs are naturally active animals, and they can sometimes engage in activities that lead to tooth injuries. This might include running into objects, colliding with other dogs, or even chewing on hard objects.

Chewing on Hard Objects

Many dogs love to chew on things, and if they chew on hard objects like rocks, bones, or metal, it can put excessive pressure on their teeth, leading to fractures. This is why it’s essential to provide safe and appropriate chew toys to satisfy their chewing instinct.

Dental Disease

Dental disease, such as periodontal disease or tooth decay, can weaken a dog’s teeth, making them more susceptible to breakage. When a tooth is already compromised by disease, even normal chewing and biting activities can result in fractures.

Age-related Factors

As dogs age, their teeth may become more brittle and prone to breaking. Senior dogs are more likely to experience dental problems, including broken teeth, as a result of the natural aging process.

What to Do If Your Dog Has a Broken Tooth

If you suspect or confirm that your dog has a broken tooth, it’s crucial to take prompt action to ensure their well-being and comfort.

Dog broken tooth. Broken Tooth Dog. Broken Dog Tooth. Dog Broke a Tooth.
Dog broken tooth. The 4th premolar and 1st molar are the ‘carnassial’, or chewing teeth, and these are the most likely to be fractured when chewing on hard bones such as elk antlers and marrow bones. Canine teeth are more likely to fracture as a result of trauma or destructive/cage chewing behaviors.

Here Are the Steps to Follow:

1. Schedule a Veterinary Examination
The first and most important step is to schedule a veterinary examination. Only a trained veterinarian can assess the severity of the tooth injury and recommend the appropriate treatment. They will also check for any associated oral problems that may require attention.

2. Keep Your Dog Comfortable
In the meantime, keep your dog comfortable. You can do this by providing soft, easily chewable food to avoid further damage to the broken tooth. Ensure that your dog has access to clean and fresh water as well.

3. Avoid Touching the Broken Tooth
Avoid touching or attempting to examine the broken tooth yourself. Dental injuries can be painful, and any manipulation by untrained individuals can worsen the situation and cause unnecessary stress to your dog.

4. Follow Your Vet’s Recommendations
Once your veterinarian assesses the situation, they will provide you with treatment options. These may include dental procedures such as tooth extraction or root canal therapy. Follow your vet’s recommendations closely to ensure your dog receives the necessary care.

How to Tell If Your Dog Has a Broken Tooth

Identifying a broken tooth in your dog can sometimes be challenging, as dogs are skilled at hiding their pain. However, there are signs and behaviors to watch for that may indicate a dental problem. Here’s how to tell if your dog has a broken tooth:

  • Changes in Eating Habits – If your dog suddenly starts eating less or only on one side of their mouth, it could be a sign of a broken tooth or dental discomfort.
  • Pawing at the MouthDogs in pain may paw at their mouth or face in an attempt to alleviate discomfort. If you notice your dog frequently pawing at their mouth, it’s a red flag.
  • Drooling Excessively – Excessive drooling, especially if it’s sudden and accompanied by other signs of discomfort, can indicate a dental issue, including a broken tooth.
  • Bad Breath – Foul-smelling breath, often referred to as halitosis, can be a sign of dental disease or a broken tooth. The odor may be due to infection or decay associated with the damaged tooth.
  • Visible Signs of Injury – In some cases, you may be able to visually identify a broken tooth. Look for any fractures or missing pieces in your dog’s teeth. However, not all dental injuries are visible without a thorough examination by a veterinarian.
Dog broken tooth
Most veterinary dentists go by the “thumbnail test” for chewing items. They suggest that you should be able to make a dent in the item with your fingernail. Avoid antlers, hooves, bones and wood, which may splinter or break a tooth, and cause stomach problems. Also do not let your dog chomp on ice cubes (but licking, chasing and playing with them is okay).

Symptoms of Broken Tooth

In addition to the signs mentioned above, there are specific symptoms that may manifest in dogs with a broken tooth. Understanding these symptoms can help you recognize the issue more quickly. Here are some common symptoms of a broken tooth in dogs:

  1. Pain or Discomfort – Dogs with a broken tooth often experience pain or discomfort, which may lead to changes in behavior, such as irritability or reluctance to play.
  2. Swelling or Redness – If the broken tooth is associated with gum or oral tissue damage, you may notice swelling or redness in the affected area.
  3. Blood in the Mouth – A broken tooth can sometimes cause bleeding in the mouth, which can be evident through drool or bloodstains on toys or bedding.
  4. Loss of Appetite – Dogs with dental problems, including broken teeth, may lose their appetite due to pain and discomfort when eating.
  5. Excessive Salivation – Excessive salivation, also known as hypersalivation or ptyalism, can occur when a dog’s mouth is irritated by a broken tooth.

Dog Broken Tooth Treatment Costs

The cost of caring for a dog with a broken tooth can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the injury, the location of the broken tooth, and the recommended treatment.

Here are some cost considerations for a dog broken tooth:

Veterinary Examination: The initial veterinary examination to diagnose the broken tooth may range from $50 to $150, depending on your location and the specific veterinary clinic.
Dental X-rays: To assess the extent of the damage and plan appropriate treatment, your veterinarian may recommend dental X-rays. These can cost between $100 and $300.
Treatment Options: The cost of treatment options, such as tooth extraction or root canal therapy, can vary widely. Extractions are generally less expensive, ranging from $100 to $600 per tooth. Root canal therapy is a more complex procedure and can cost between $500 and $1,500 per tooth.
Anesthesia and Medications: If your dog requires anesthesia for the dental procedure or post-operative medications, these will add to the overall cost.
Follow-up Visits: Your dog may require follow-up visits to monitor their recovery and ensure there are no complications. These visits will incur additional costs.

It’s important to discuss the estimated costs with your veterinarian and inquire about any available payment options or pet insurance coverage to help manage the expenses.

Dog broken tooth treatment costs
There are many different classifications for dental fractures, so a complete evaluation under anesthesia and dental radiographs are required to assess the severity of the fracture.

The Difference Between a Chipped Tooth and a Broken Tooth

Understanding the difference between a chipped tooth and a broken tooth is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they refer to distinct dental conditions:

  • Chipped Tooth: A chipped tooth is a dental condition where a small piece of the tooth enamel is missing or damaged. It is typically a superficial issue and may not always cause pain or discomfort. Chipped teeth can occur due to trauma, chewing on hard objects, or accidents. Treatment for a chipped tooth in dogs may involve smoothing the rough edges of the tooth to prevent further damage or irritation. In some cases, if the chip is extensive or causes pain, the veterinarian may recommend more advanced dental care.
  • Broken Tooth: A broken tooth, on the other hand, involves more significant damage to the tooth structure. It often extends beyond the enamel and can expose the sensitive dentin or pulp beneath. Broken teeth are more likely to cause pain and discomfort to the dog. Treatment for a broken tooth may include tooth extraction, especially if the tooth cannot be saved through other means like root canal therapy. Broken teeth are considered more severe than chipped teeth and require prompt attention to prevent complications.

While most broken incisors are extracted, a chipped tooth may be left alone and monitored, especially if no dentin is exposed. This layer is underneath the outer enamel, which can be sensitive to hot and cold. But if the tooth is wiggly, simply monitoring it is not an option–because it could allow a pathway for bacteria to reach the roots and spread throughout the dog’s body.

Consequences of Ignoring a Fractured Tooth

Ignoring a fractured tooth in your dog can have serious consequences, both for their oral health and overall well-being.

Here are some of the potential outcomes of neglecting a broken tooth:

Pain and Discomfort: A fractured tooth can cause constant pain and discomfort for your dog. This can affect their quality of life, behavior, and overall happiness.

Infection: When a tooth is broken, the inner pulp and dentin can become exposed, making it susceptible to infection. Dental infections can spread to other parts of the body, leading to more significant health issues.

Loss of Appetite: Dental pain can result in a decreased appetite, leading to malnutrition and weight loss over time.

Behavior Changes: Dogs in pain may exhibit behavioral changes, including aggression, irritability, or withdrawal. Ignoring dental pain can lead to a decrease in your dog’s overall well-being.

Complications: Left untreated, a broken tooth can lead to complications such as abscesses, gum disease, and even damage to adjacent teeth. These issues can be more challenging and costly to treat.

Dog broke a tooth
Your dog may LOVE hard chew toys, but if you can find a softer alternative, you’ll help avoid trips to the vet for broken teeth. Good options include toys from Kong and Goughnuts. While some rawhides are safe for dogs, they always require supervision.

In conclusion, a broken tooth in your dog should never be taken lightly. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and consequences of dental issues is crucial for early detection and prompt treatment. If you suspect your dog has a broken tooth or notice any related symptoms, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Timely intervention can alleviate your dog’s pain, prevent further complications, and ensure a healthy and happy life for your furry friend.

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