The care of your gundog's teeth is very important to general well-being

Q: I have noticed that one of my gundogs has broken a tooth. It doesn’t seem to be causing her 
any problems. Is it OK to leave it?

A broken dog tooth, especially 
if the root canal is exposed, 
can be painful to a dog. Animals 
won’t always show their discomfort 
as they are evolutionarily conditioned to mask pain fairly well; they consequently respond differently, 
are much more stoical and have no concept that they can be helped. With our current state of knowledge in veterinary medicine, it is no longer necessarily appropriate to simply ignore broken teeth in our patients.

Ache or sharp pain

The outer layer of the tooth is called the enamel and inside the tooth is the pulp cavity. This “pulp” is where the blood vessels and nerves that serve the tooth lie. When the hard, protective enamel is fractured it enables bacterial infection and puts pressure on the nerve, causing a dull ache or sharp pain.

Your vet will be able to ascertain how much of the tooth has been broken and how deep the fracture extends, and can determine the 
most appropriate treatment options.

If the tooth root canal is exposed and infected, bacteria can then break out through the bottom of the tooth, cause bone destruction and occasionally an abscess, which appears as a swelling on the face, often below the eye. This most commonly occurs with a fracture of the upper fourth premolar (carnassial) tooth. It can also happen secondary to an infected canine tooth (the fang) as well as most other teeth. Antibiotics will usually resolve the problem but it can recur if the offending tooth is not appropriately treated. This may require the tooth to be removed.

Fractured teeth do not have 
to be removed. There is usually an alternative available, though this may require the animal to be referred to 
a specialist veterinary dental clinic, and for some teeth — lower canines are a good example — it can be far easier to root-fill than extract the tooth.

  1. 1. Ache or sharp pain
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