What Can Be Done When a Dog's Tooth Breaks?

by M.B. Lachlei
    Keep that smile by brushing your dog's teeth.

    Keep that smile by brushing your dog's teeth.

    Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Broken dog teeth are common, according to the American Veterinary Dental Association. Dogs can break their teeth by chewing or being hit with something like a ball or a rock. If your dog has broken a tooth, it can lead to infection if nothing is done for it, so act quickly.

    Although it risks an infection, many pet owners opt for doing nothing. If the pulp isn't exposed, then doing nothing is OK. You can tell if the tooth's pulp is exposed by looking at the tooth. If you see a small hole at the surface or a red line down the tooth, then the break exposed the pulp. Some older dogs may not develop an infection, but younger dogs will because the roots of their teeth haven't fully sealed.

    The best treatment is a root canal. Like a person's root canal, they remove the pulp and fill the tooth with medications to prevent further infection. This can be done on any of the dog's teeth.

    Another option, especially if your dog is young and his teeth haven't finished growing, or if the tooth isn't badly infected or the injury is new, is a vital pulpotomy. Unlike a root canal, the veterinarian only removes part of the pulp -- about 6 to 8 milimeters -- and fills the cavity with medicine to prevent infection. Usually cheaper and quicker to perform than root canals, the remaining pulp will help the tooth grow.

    The last option is to have the veterinarian pull the dog's tooth out. This may be your lowest cost option next to doing nothing. Many veterinarians dislike pulling teeth because it can be painful for the dog, given the long roots dogs have in their teeth. The other reason is that the dog needs his teeth for chewing, which pulling a tooth may hinder.

    Photo Credits

    • Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    M.B. Lachlei is an award-winning author of more than 30 pet and science-fiction/fantasy books. She is also the publisher of Sky Warrior Books.

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