Dental Fractures

Due to certain chewing habits and activities dogs’ and cats’ teeth are easily at risk for being worn down, chipped, or fractured. About 10% to 29% of patients in small-animal clinical practices have experienced fractured dentition.

Fractured teeth are definitely worth a fair amount of concern, despite the fact that many of our pets don’t generally exhibit blatant clinical signs of pain, discomfort, or even infection; their appetites may not even change. Due to our furry friends having the absence of obvious harm it has led to many fractured teeth taking the “wait-and-see” approach. The risk of doing this though and not seeking treatment right away puts your pets at high risk for chronic pain, pulpitis (inflammation of the pulp tissue), pupal necrosis (death of cells and tissues), osteitis (inflammation of bone), tooth resorption, draining sinus tracts, facial swelling, and tooth loss.

Prevention and Early Recognition/Causes of Fractures – Dogs especially can generate substantial biting forces with their carnassial teeth. If the object a dog is biting is as hard as or harder than the tooth, a fracture could occur. Having a detailed understanding of the causes of fractured teeth should prompt you to aggressively seek treatment for your beloved furry companion, but preventing dental fractures in the first place is ideal. Putting this into practice means being aware of what hard chewing materials you should avoid, such as nylon bones, animal bones (cooked or raw), cow hooves, horse hooves, etc., rocks, chewing of metal wire kennels.

When dentition fractures happen, early recognition and adequate treatment are necessary to prevent pain and secondary disease (and to save the tooth when possible). Additionally, during your yearly wellness exams at your regular veterinarian, it is recommended to have the teeth examined for any abnormalities so that they may be noted.

Dental Anatomy – Enamel is the structure of the tooth that protects the crown (the part of the tooth above the gum line), this is the hardest substance in the body. Be aware that enamel cannot regenerate after trauma though. Beneath this layer of enamel is a layer of dentin that surrounds the hollow pulp chamber (root canal), this contains the pulp tissue. The pulp consists of connective, vascular, and nervous tissues. Specialized cells called odontoblasts are what continuously produce additional dentin.

Fracture Classification – Enamel infraction: An incomplete fracture (crack) of the enamel without loss of tooth substance.

Enamel fracture: A fracture with loss of crown substance confined to the enamel.

Uncomplicated Crown Fracture: A fracture of the crown that does not expose the pulp.

Complicated Crown-root Fracture: A fracture of the crown and root that exposes the pulp.

Root Fracture: A fracture involving the tooth root.

Commonly Fractured Teeth – Dogs are most susceptible to a fracture of the maxillary fourth premolar teeth (carnassial teeth), whereas cats are more at risk to fracturing their maxillary canine and carnassial teeth.

What To Do If Your Pet Fractures a Tooth/Treatment – There are several different treatment methods and options: vital pulp therapy, root canal treatment, bonded composite restoration, crown restoration, and extraction. Majority of these procedures are provided by specialized dental veterinarians Due to the pain level and risk of the infection spreading throughout your pet’s body, you cannot leave the tooth alone with an exposed nerve.


Veterinary Partner




My Dental Cleaning by Carrots the Clinic Cat

I recently had my check-up with Dr. B, and he mentioned that I have a lot of tartar on my teeth and something called a resorptive lesion. I had been noticing that my mouth wasn’t feeling so clean, and it did hurt when I ate my kibble. Dr. B recommended that I have my teeth cleaned, and they would remove the bad teeth at the same time so that I wouldn’t be in any more pain. I was pretty nervous as it was my first time, but I see the staff here do it almost every day, so I figured I could be brave for one day. I asked the Techs to take pictures during my dental so that I could show you all that happens, and hopefully, you wouldn’t be so nervous if you need a Dental too! The first part was the worst part. The girls forgot to give me dinner the night before my procedure and then they didn’t give me breakfast either! I tried to explain to them, but they said it wasn’t safe to eat before you go under anesthetic. My stomach was saying otherwise, but the girls wanted to make sure my dental cleaning was as safe as possible. This is why they did blood work on me a couple of days before my procedure, as well. They started by giving me an injection in my hind leg to make me feel a bit sleepy, and it also offers some pain control. They let me relax for a little bit in a kennel before they brought me out to the dental table. My front leg was shaved, and a catheter was put into my vein. The clippers tickled, and the catheter poke wasn’t too bad, but then they put a whole bunch of tape on my leg to keep it in place. The tape was the worst part because I knew they’d be ripping it off later! The tech then checked my vitals to make sure everything was good. She then told me I was going to feel sleepy. She gave me an injection through the catheter in my front leg. Boy was she right, sleepy I got! I tried to keep my eyes open, but they just kept getting heavier and heavier. Now what happened next is a bit foggy, but I went into a nice deep sleep. During my sleep, the tech placed an endotracheal tube into my trachea (orange tube in the photo). This was to ensure I could breathe the entire time and so that water and debris couldn’t go into my lungs. The tube is hooked up to oxygen and a gas anesthetic to make sure I stay asleep for the entire procedure, as well. She also put gauze in the back of my throat for extra protection. She then cleaned my teeth with an ultrasonic scaler. It makes a high pitched noise, so I was glad I was under so I couldn’t hear it. My teeth were cleaned above and below the gum line. Apparently, tartar can build up down there too. The tech told me it’s similar to when she goes to the dentist, but she’s allowed to stay awake since she doesn’t bite the dental hygienist. I’m sure there are some humans that do bite, though! Then the tech looked closely at all my teeth and wrote down anything important on my chart. She also put a probe down between my gums and each tooth to ensure there aren’t any large pockets that could cause me issues. Big pockets are great spots for bacteria and tartar to hide, and I sure don’t want any of those anymore. Luckily I didn’t have any fractured or broken teeth and no big pockets. They did find two teeth that were resorptive lesions. These were the culprits causing me some discomfort, so they had to be extracted. Dr. B asked the girls to x-ray these teeth to see how much damage there was underneath the gum line so that he would know how to remove them. We recently upgraded to digital dental x-rays, and I was lucky to be one of the first to test it out. You can see in the photo my x-ray on the laptop. The roots of those teeth were all eaten away, so Dr. B did a crown amputation. He told me that it means just the top of the tooth that you can see is removed as almost all of the tooth below the gums were gone. He then sutured the extraction sites closed so that they would heal well and to prevent food and debris (from me grooming myself) from going inside and causing an infection. Once Dr. B was done, the tech double-checked that everything was nice and clean. She then polished my teeth with a minty paste. She didn’t let me pick my flavour of polish, but we don’t have fish flavoured anyways. She then put on fluoride that had to sit on my teeth for a bit and then it was all wiped off. The tech made sure that she wiped off all of the fluoride as it isn’t safe for me to swallow when I woke up. This is why pets have special toothpaste, and we can’t share with you humans. Once all the fluoride was wiped off my teeth, the tech made sure the gauze was out of my throat, and everything looked good. It was now time for me to wake up. They turn off the anesthetic gas so that I am just breathing oxygen, and I slowly came around. They don’t take out the endotracheal tube until I am awake enough to breathe on my own safely. This was when I started to remember again what happened. I woke up with a minty fresh mouth, but I was very confused. The girls tried to assure me that everything went well and that I was safe in their arms, but I was too confused. So, of course, I tried to wiggle about and figure things out for myself. Don’t they know I’m an independent cat? The tech held me safe until I was a little more with it even with my protest. I have to admit I was feeling the drugs for quite a while. They made sure I could walk and jump well before I was allowed to free roam the clinic again that night. They also made me a bunch of nice cozy beds on the floor around the clinic so that I wouldn’t have to jump up on anything, which was good because I was still feeling a bit off all night. For the next couple of days, the girls gave me a pain medication, which I hate to admit was delicious. I pretended that I was upset getting it, but boy was it chicken flavoured delight, and I made sure to lick every last drop off of my lips. Hopefully, by knowing what the process is, it will help you feel a bit less nervous about your dental cleaning, and if your humans have any questions about Dental cleanings or preventative measures, the staff here are always willing to discuss them.

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