Tooth fractures are a common injury seen in vet practices in both cats and dogs. Cats commonly fracture their canines due to facial trauma and dogs usually injure their teeth by chewing hard objects.
Tooth fractures can vary on their degree of severity and pain.
Enamel/dentine fracture: When the outer layer (hard enamel coating) and the underlying structure (dentine, the softer more porous layer) have broken off without affecting the nerve of the tooth (pulp chamber). Some sensitivity is felt in the affected tooth by the pet.
More extensive fractures that involve the nerve of the tooth can be broken into 2 categories:
1. Vital: Where the fracture has exposed the pulp chamber but the pulp is still alive (appears pink/red in colour)
- Incredibly painful!
- If left untreated, infection of the pulp chamber imminent
- Progresses to Category 2...
2. Non-Vital: Where the fracture has exposed the pulp chamber, been left untreated and the pulp has died due to infection (appears grey/black/brown in colour)
- Pulp infected through fracture site and has died = dead nerves so no pain felt
- Can become painful again as the infection travels to the surrounding supportive bone structure (alveolar bone)
- If these teeth are not treated further infections develop in the surrounding bone and soft tissues, which can lead to the formation of an abscess and swelling in or outside of the mouth which is awfully painful
Both categories can be hard to detect, especially Non-Vital fractured teeth as they are often covered in plaque or tartar and cannot be properly assessed without dental cleaning and probing.
Another problem that a fractured tooth can cause, if the fractured edge happens to be sharp, is a laceration to the surrounding soft tissue or an ulcer from the sharp edge rubbing against the tissue.
It is important that fractured teeth are treated ASAP before they progress to a more severe state!
Treatment options include:
- Root Canal Therapy (with a Vet Dental Specialist)
- Vital Pulpotomy (with a Vet Dental Specialist)
- Extraction (at our hospital)
- NOTE: We can arrange for a Root Canal or Vital Pulpotomy procedure to be done at our clinic with a mobile Vet Dental Specialist
If you are concerned that your pet is suffering from a fractured tooth please do not hesitate to book a consultation today!