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Help! My Dog Has a Broken Tooth! What Should I Do?

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Dog Health By Kate Brunotts 4 min read December 2, 2021

Broken dog teeth

Has your best buddy broken or chipped one of his pearly whites? Many dogs suffer from broken teeth from time to time, and while a broken tooth isn’t the end of the world, it is an issue that requires assistance from your veterinarian

But don’t worry — we’ll explain everything you need to know to get Spot’s smile back and provide some tips for avoiding similar issues in the future. 

Key Takeaways: My Dog Has a Broken Tooth! What Do I Do?!?

  • Dogs who suffer broken or chipped teeth require prompt veterinary care. Usually, care can wait until the morning, but there are cases in which you’ll want to just jump in the car and head over to the animal emergency room.
  • Your vet can likely repair the tooth in one of several ways, depending on the nature and extent of the damage suffered. However, in some cases, tooth extraction becomes necessary.
  • As is always the case, prevention is better than treatment, so we share a few ways to help avoid broken teeth. For example, you’ll want to prevent your dog from chewing on hard things, such as bones.
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Is a Broken Dog Tooth an Emergency?

see a vet after broken tooth

Seeing your dog break his tooth can be incredibly alarming. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily warrant an immediate emergency trip to the animal hospital. 

In other words, you usually don’t have to drop everything in the middle of the night and head over to the pet hospital, though you do want your furry friend seen by a veterinarian within 24 hours or so.

And in most cases, your vet will be able to help your furry friend feel better and repair the damage.  

However, there is one caveat to this: If you can see the pulp of your dog’s tooth or it appears infected, you will want to hop in the car and head right over to the emergency vet. This kind of tooth issue can be incredibly painful for your dog, so you’ll need to give your dog something for pain relief and get dental care immediately. 

Aside from the pain it’s likely to cause, exposed pulp or roots become susceptible to infection (no matter how clean your dog’s mouth is). And this can cause more problems over time, and potentially lead to systemic illness. 

Hence, time is of the essence with these types of teeth fractures. 

Pet-Care Pro Tip: Trust Your Instincts!

While you can sometimes wait until the next day to visit the vet for a broken tooth, it is always important to remember that tooth pain can be maddening.

And because you don’t want your four-footed friend to have to endure that kind of pain for hours and hours, you should always trust your instincts. You know your dog better than anyone else, so if you think your pet is really suffering, just go ahead and hop in the car.

How Do Dogs Break Teeth?

chewing bones can break dog teeth

Fractured teeth can, unfortunately, be fairly common for our furry friends, and they usually stem from two main sources:

  • External Trauma: Such as running into something or getting hit by an external object. 
  • Rough Play: Playing tug of war or similar types of games may cause your dog to suffer a broken tooth. 
  • Chewing Hard Items: Your dog can also break teeth from chewing on hard objects like bones, fake bones like Nylabones, or other non-bending chew toys.

It’s most common for dogs to chip their fang-like canine teeth or the large cheek teeth in the back of the mouth (called the fourth maxillary premolars). 

the Importance of Regular Dental Care

It is vital that you brush your dog’s teeth regularly (several times per week) with a good canine toothpaste, so that you can keep your dog’s teeth healthy and plaque-free.

Tooth-brushing time also provides you with the chance to inspect your dog’s teeth, which will help you notice any broken or chipped teeth as soon as possible.

Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Tooth in Dogs 

Sometimes, you may not know when your dog broke a tooth or realize it’s happened at all. So, always keep a lookout for these signs:

  • Dropping food from the mouth while eating
  • Refusing treats or toys
  • Avoiding your hand when you try to touch his face
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Excessive drooling
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth
  • Grinding or chattering his teeth
  • Facial swelling

When in doubt, take your pooch to your vet for an examination. You’ll also need to stay up to date on regular dental exams by your veterinarian to help keep your dog in tip-top shape.

How Are Broken Teeth Treated by a Vet?

how vets treat broken teeth

Broken teeth are treated in a number of ways depending on the situation. Just note that regardless of the severity of the fracture, broken teeth always need some sort of treatment since untreated teeth can become more sensitive, painful, or prone to infection over time.  

Here are the most common ways in your veterinarian may address broken teeth:

  • Root Canal Therapy — This method is often necessary if your dog has an exposed nerve. During this procedure, instruments are used to disinfect and clean the tooth, and then remove any diseased tissue present. The resulting hole is then filled to prevent future bacterial contamination and restore proper function. Depending on the case, your dog may receive a synthetic crown to protect his teeth following the treatment. 
  • Tooth Extraction  — This procedure requires oral surgery to remove the affected teeth from your mutt’s mouth. Most veterinarians will avoid extracting teeth that are fractured but otherwise healthy, but this may be necessary in serious cases. 
  • Vital Pulp Therapy — If you have a younger dog under 18 months of age, he may be eligible for this treatment that aims to preserve tooth structure. This treatment keeps the affected tooth alive by eliminating a layer of surface bacteria and any inflamed tissue present. The tooth is then covered in a medicated dressing and a protective dental composite to promote healing. While this procedure is successful under most circumstances, your dog will require an additional follow-up exam to ensure that the tooth has healed properly. 

Thankfully, broken teeth usually have a positive prognosis once treated properly by a veterinarian. Just remember that the earlier you can have your pooch seen after he breaks his tooth, the better. 

***

Buddy breaking his tooth can be alarming. Thankfully, this issue isn’t a cause for panic as long as you get your furry friend the veterinary care he needs. 

Has your pooch ever broken a tooth? How was it treated? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below! 

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Written by

Kate Brunotts

Kate is a dog-loving content specialist with over a decade of canine-care experience. She is currently a professional dog walker and pet sitter, with previous experience working at the Heart of Chelsea Animal Hospital in Manhattan. When not spending time with four-footers, she can usually be found crafting top-notch dog-care articles that pet parents can trust. Kate loves dogs of all shapes and sizes, but Bernese Mountain Dogs hold a special place in her heart.

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