Dogs and cats explore the world with their mouths, and chewing, biting, gnawing, and chomping are parts of that exploration. It probably comes as no surprise that chipped and broken teeth are common occurrences among pets that many veterinarians see on a weekly basis.
Besides being unsightly, a broken tooth can spell big trouble for a pet. If the pulp (internal blood supply of the tooth) is exposed, bacteria can gain access to the root, leading to tooth and bone loss. Systemic infection throughout the body may result as the bacteria leak from the root into the bloodstream.
What would you do if your pet broke a tooth? Call your friendly team at West Park Animal Hospital, of course!
Signs Your Pet Broke a Tooth
Sometimes you may not see your pet’s fractured tooth, but these signs can alert you to the problem:
- Trouble eating
- Signs of pain, such as pawing at the face and mouth
- Chewing only on one side of the mouth
- Refusal to eat
- Blood in the saliva
- Facial swelling
- Changes in behavior (grumpiness, aggression, etc.)
It’s important to remember that, in many cases, pets show no signs of pain. Pets naturally try to hide signs of injury, and may continue to eat and behave normally even if they’re in pain.
If you know or suspect that your pet broke a tooth, give us a call right away. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination, which may include digital x-rays, to determine the severity of the injury. Depending on the results of the exam, treatment may be as simple as filing down the rough edges, or as involved as a root canal or extraction to prevent further damage and infection from occurring.
Preventing Tooth Injury
Tooth breakage in pets generally stems from chewing, but can also happen as a result of rough play, falling from a height, being hit by a car, or other accident. You may not be able to completely prevent your pet from ever breaking a tooth, but you can stack the odds in their favor with the following tactics:
- Keep antlers, hooves, bones, hard nylon toys, and other very hard chew items away from your pet.
- Don’t allow your pet to chew on hard surfaces, such as fences, rocks, etc.
- Supervise your pet while outdoors.
- Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise, and provide them with safe chew toys.
- Give aggressive chewers softer toys that they cannot get their whole mouths around.
- Bring your pet in for all of their regularly scheduled wellness visits, and follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for professional dental examinations and cleanings.