Broken Teeth in Dogs: A Guide

If you have ever had a toothache, you know how excruciating a bad tooth can be. Mouth pain is distressing on multiple levels. Not only does it cause a dull throbbing pain throughout the day, but the pain also gets worse when you try to eat food or drink water. Dogs are no exception when it comes to mouth pain, and the most significant threat that can cause this problem is broken teeth. While a broken tooth in dogs is not so common, it can still cause severe pain if left untreated. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about broken teeth in dogs, including the symptoms and common treatments for this ailment. 

Causes of Broken Teeth in Dogs

Typically, broken teeth occur when the exterior layer of enamel on your dog’s tooth becomes compromised. Once the enamel breaks down to a certain point, your dog’s teeth become susceptible to chips, fractures, and full-on breaks. 

The most common causes of a chipped or broken tooth comes from biting down on a hard surface. Bones, especially things like antlers, are one of the most common culprits for contributing to chipped teeth. While not all bones are bad for teeth, some are even beneficial for canine oral health, and there are certain types of hard chews that put dogs in jeopardy of tooth breaks.

How Are Broken Teeth in Dogs Diagnosed?

A broken tooth is typically pretty easy to spot, especially for a vet. While you may need to go to an animal dentist for the dental work itself, a traditional vet will have a good understanding of the issue your dog is dealing with. Upon inspecting your dog’s tooth, your vet will be able to determine the severity of the tooth issue and advise on how to proceed.

How Do I Know If it’s Just a Minor Chip?

What may seem like a broken tooth to the untrained eye may only be a small chip. While your dog’s visible symptoms may clue you in on whether it is a chipped tooth or a full-on break, the real answer will come from taking your dog to the vet. A chipped tooth in dogs is also a common problem, which may need veterinarian attention in some cases.

What Are the Symptoms of a Chipped Tooth?

A dog who has suffered a broken tooth will exhibit noticeable symptoms, most of which will have to do with mouth-related activities. According to My Pet Needs That, if your dog has a broken tooth, he will not be able to eat or drink without pain. Similar to tooth loss in dogs, look for these symptoms to see if your dog is suffering from a dental problem. 

  • Loss of Appetite
  • Swelling in the mouth and face
  • Whining while eating
  • Favoring one side of the mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive drooling
  • Change in mood or behavior

If your dog displays any of the symptoms listed above, gently open his mouth and look for any irregular teeth. Be cautious when performing your initial inspection as your dog may be hesitant for you to poke around inside his hurting mouth. If you are still uncertain, and the behavior persists, take him in for an exam.

What’s the Difference Between a Fracture and a Break?

A fracture refers to when damage to the enamel or dentin. The severity of a break depends on how far up the tooth the break occurs. If only a small piece near the tip of the tooth breaks, then the tooth can usually be filed and saved. However, if a tooth breaks far enough up to where there is root exposure, then the problem is more severe and action must be taken.

Treatment Options for Broken Teeth in Dogs

When it comes to broken teeth, your dog will need special treatment. The full scope of dental procedures is on the table for broken teeth depending on severity. Here are the top three major dental procedures that come as a result of a broken tooth, according to the Animal Dental Clinic.

1) A crown. This is a good option if the tooth in question is one of your dog’s critical teeth like a back molar, which is used for chewing. A crown is only an option if there is enough tooth left to affix a crown.

2) Filing and filling. This option is far less invasive and is typically performed when a tooth is only slightly chipped or cracked.

3) Root Canal and Extraction. These two options are usually the most common procedure for a broken tooth in a dog. Both are surgical procedures that require sedation, and depending on the severity of the break, your pet dentist will likely recommend one of these options.

How To Prevent Broken Teeth in Dogs?

Though it may seem counterintuitive, chewing is an excellent way to prevent broken teeth, provided your dog is chewing the right things. According to Embrace Pet Insurance, soft chews like tennis balls and bully sticks are great for dental health

Regular brushing is of the utmost importance. Your dog needs his teeth brushed daily for optimal dental hygiene. In addition to brushing, your dog should be scheduled for regular teeth cleanings. Often, problems that lead to broken teeth are found and treated in regular dental check-ups, which would have otherwise gone unnoticed. 

Be sure to check your dog’s teeth regularly and keep up with good hygiene habits like vet check-ups and daily brushing. Your dog’s teeth are one of his greatest assets, and a broken tooth can be a devastating and painful endeavor for your dog. If you are ever in doubt about a broken tooth, don’t wait, call your vet and schedule an appointment to ensure your dog receives the care he needs.

 

Sources:

Williams, Olivia. “How to Treat a Broken Tooth in Dogs.” My Pet Needs That, 4 Dec. 2019, https://www.mypetneedsthat.com/broken-tooth-in-dogs/.

“Complicated Dental (Tooth) Fractures in Dogs.” Embrace Pet Insurance, https://www.embracepetinsurance.com/health/complicated-denta