With every physical examination of your pet, you may notice that we flip the lip back to look at the gums and the teeth. The teeth are amazing. They are strong enough to bite through bone in most cases but can become weakened through disease and trauma.
Just this month we have seen a number of traumatic tooth fractures. Collisions with cars, balcony falls, “face plants” while running crazily in the park playing chasings, over enthusiastic bat and ball games and finally clumsy falls over retaining walls have all resulted in dogs or cats being presented with one or more broken teeth.
Within every tooth is a channel called the pulp canal. We are all familiar with this in our own teeth, because this is where the tooth nerve runs and it is the source of “ice cream teeth pain”. It is also the channel connecting the top of the tooth with the root.
Infection can also enter through this exposed area leading to tooth root abscesses and disease. This can cause pain and tooth loss.
“But my dog/cat is still eating, so it can’t be in pain, right???”
The will to survive and hunger out weigh the pain. Does having a reaction to cold stop us from eating ice cream?? I don’t think so. Sometimes we will avoid certain foods that cause pain, or we will change our chewing pattern but we rarely stop eating all together.
Images of broken teeth
What we do?
Pets require a general anaesthesia to have teeth removed. We also use local anaesthetic at the time of removal so that there is good pain relief during and after removal. Sometimes removal requires a section of gum to be lifted away from the root of the tooth. This will later be stitched. Depending on the tooth we may also need to cut the teeth into sections to improve the ease and speed of removal. As with any surgery on bone and boney material, dental radiographs are often utilised to see what is happening under the gum line.
The radiograph below is from a speedy Italian Greyhound who often ran so fast while playing that his front legs often couldn’t keep up with his back legs – he came to see us having just fractured a tooth in a recent tumble. He had fresh blood from one tooth but another tooth missing. Radiographs revealed that he had fractured another tooth a little while ago but his gum had swallowed it up. This second broken tooth, although not visible on the surface can be a continuing source of pain and infection and needed removal as well.
So, a healthy smile is important for good pain-free life. Come in have your pets teeth checked by one of our team at Vet HQ sometime soon. The sooner you act, the better chance we have of being able to save teeth.