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Is A Broken Dog Tooth An Emergency?

Is A Broken Dog Tooth An Emergency?

Like human teeth, canine teeth are an essential part of a dog’s health. But is a broken dog tooth an emergency? 

We take a close look at what’s inside a dog’s mouth in this article. From how many teeth dogs have to dental care tips, you’ll learn when to call the veterinarian and how much dental work can cost. 

Let’s get started. 

How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have?

Dogs have 42 teeth when they reach adulthood. Puppies start with 28 teeth that you can start to see when they’re around two weeks old. 

Because dogs mature quickly, they also lose their first set of teeth fast. Their incisors are small teeth in the front of a dog’s mouth. There should be a total of 12, and the first set fall out around four months old. The four canine teeth, which look like fangs, are the pointed ones at the top and bottom of the mouth. They come out between five to six months. 

The rest of the 42 adult teeth start between five and eight months, with the premolars and molars. At this point, if puppy teeth are left, they’ll need to be extracted by a vet.

There are 16 premolars behind the canine teeth, eight on the top and eight on the bottom of the mouth. The molars are flat teeth for grinding and chewing. They’re in the back of the mouth, four on top and six on the bottom.

What Can Cause a Dog’s Tooth to Break?

A dog’s broken tooth can result from being hit by an object or by chewing hard objects. Items like antlers, bones, rocks, and other hard chew toys can cause trauma to teeth. It is also common for dogs to bite at kennel bars and pull to try to escape. This can break canines and front teeth.

Breaking a front canine tooth can be more severe than a molar. Once the tooth is broken, bacteria from the mouth will start to go into the root canal and can cause an infection. The tooth will eventually die and bacteria will remain, which can spread to other areas of the body, such as the liver or kidneys. 

Do Dogs Feel Pain in Their Teeth?

While broken teeth aren’t uncommon and some fractures aren’t problematic, they can be very painful. However, knowing if our dogs are in pain is difficult since they can’t talk to us. A broken tooth can cause a dog to stop eating. And because the bacteria can spread through the dog’s body, it can systematically begin to be a larger problem. 

canine laying on floor
A broken dog tooth can be very painful, but our pups can’t tell us how much it hurts.

How Do I Know If My Dog’s Broken Tooth Is Infected?

There are various signs to know if your dog’s broken tooth is infected. Bad breath, drooling, avoiding food due to pain, pawing at their face, or swollen lymph nodes by the tooth are all signs of infection. If you see any of these signs, it’s often best to err on the side of caution and have it looked at by a professional.

Is A Broken Dog Tooth An Emergency?

Due to the high risk of an infection and bacteria spreading to other parts of the body, a broken dog tooth should be addressed by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Having a vet examine your dog’s mouth for tooth abscesses is best. They may need to take an x-ray to help determine whether tooth extraction is necessary. 

The bottom line is, yes, a broken dog tooth is an emergency. It’s important to avoid bacteria spreading throughout the dog’s body. So the sooner the fractured tooth is addressed, the better.

How Do Veterinarians Fix a Broken Dog Tooth?

Veterinarians can fix a broken dog tooth with dental surgery. There are two primary methods they will use to do this: extraction and root canals. They will most often extract the tooth and treat the dog with antibiotics and pain medication if the tooth is infected. Remember, your dog has 42 teeth and doesn’t have to rely on hunting for its food.

Extraction also treats an abscessed tooth because the supporting structure of the tooth is permanently damaged. By removing it, it is able to heal. The infection is likely to come back over time if the tooth remains. 

dog root canal cost
Dog root canals can cost as much as a human root canal.

Can Dogs Get Root Canals?

Another treatment vets use for a broken dog tooth is root canals. Yes, dogs can get root canals just like people. This procedure is usually done by a veterinary dental specialist when it is deemed beneficial to try and save the tooth. It’s most commonly performed on teeth that are the most functional for chewing.

Root canals allow the tooth to remain by removing the affected inner pulp, which is dental tissue made up of arteries, veins, lymphatics, connective tissues, and nerves. The root canal cleanses and fills the pulp canal with dental materials. And a hard layer of composite is put on the tooth as a protective outer layer.

How Much Does Dog Dental Work Cost?

Dog dental work can cost from $300 to upwards of $2000. It depends on several factors, including your veterinarian, what needs to be done, and the extent of the work. Many veterinary offices request or require pre-anesthesia bloodwork to make sure the dog is healthy enough to be put under anesthesia. For a more complex dental surgery, your dog may be asleep for longer than normally necessary with an average dental cleaning. The longer under anesthesia, the more the surgery will cost.

Additionally, they will definitely want to take X-rays to understand the extent of the broken tooth or teeth. While not usually extremely costly, your vet may need to take more pictures than usual to hone in on the best strategy for the extraction or root canal.

Dog dental work is usually pretty standard for the cleaning portion, but extractions are additional. Most vets will provide you with an estimate beforehand after their initial consultation exam. However, they really don’t know all the extractions necessary until they have taken the X-rays or really get to examine the teeth once the dog is under anesthesia.

You’ll also need to consider after-care medications as part of the cost. Expect post-surgery pain medications to keep your dog comfortable and antibiotics to treat or prevent infection at the surgery site.

If your dog gets a root canal, that will be by far the most expensive dental work. It can be as much as a human’s root canal due to its increased complexity over a more simple extraction. The average cost of a dog root canal is between $1,500 to $3,000. However, it depends on the location. A canine tooth typically costs more than other teeth. Some dog root canals can cost up to $6,000.

What Medicine Can I Give My Dog for Tooth Pain?

We recommend always checking with your vet before administering medication to your dog. If your dog has tooth pain, ask for any home remedies your vet recommends, or they may call in a prescription. 

Remember, you should never give your dog aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). These human medications can be toxic to dogs. 

dog chewing toy
Soft and flexible toys for chewing are typically easier on a dog’s teeth.

Dog Dental Care Tips

Taking care of your dog’s mouth to prevent a broken tooth is essential. Let’s look at some dental care tips for your pup.

Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Brushing your dog’s teeth a couple of times a week is a good way to prevent dental issues. It keeps their teeth clean and allows you to check for potential problems. 

You can get flavored toothpaste, like peanut butter or meat. And you can use a regular toothbrush for large dogs. And for small dogs, a baby toothbrush or finger brush works well. There are also dog toothbrush kits you can purchase.

Give Dog Dental Treats

Dental treats are another way to prevent issues with your dog’s teeth. Since treats motivate dogs, it’s an easy way to promote oral health. 

Ensure the dental treats you use have the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s Seal of Acceptance on the package. It means that the product helps control tartar buildup. 

Ask Your Vet Which Food Is Best for Your Dog’s Teeth

Anything your dog puts in its mouth should be safe for its teeth. Ask your vet which food they suggest. It will depend on your dog’s size, age, and current state of health. That’s why we recommend asking your vet’s advice rather than going by what it says on a bag of food in the grocery store. 

Use Dental Powder on Dog Food

Dental powder contains a probiotic that helps promote healthy bacteria. It also kills bacteria that build plaque on your dog’s teeth. You can sprinkle the powder on your dog’s food. And, in addition, to being a preventative aid, it also keeps your pup’s breath smelling good.

Have Your Dog’s Teeth Cleaned

Even if you brush your dog’s teeth regularly, tartar can still build up. Taking your pup in for cleanings at your vet’s office is another way to prevent problems. They can get at hard-to-reach places, particularly under the gumline. Most professionals recommend a cleaning every one to three years, depending on your dog’s health and how much you brush their teeth at home. 

Treat Your Dog’s Teeth as You Do Your Own

Is a broken dog tooth an emergency? Yes, just like if you had a fractured tooth. Treat a dog’s mouth like a human’s. It’s an important part of their body and system. 

We highly recommend regular health care check-ups so your veterinarian can examine your pup’s teeth. Keeping your dog’s smile bright for years to come will also help bring a smile to your face! 

How healthy are your dog’s teeth? Ask your vet at your next visit.

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About Caitlin Morton, Petrics Co-Founder

Cait has had animals her whole life, from family cats and dogs as a child, to caring for the class reptiles over breaks, to getting her first horse at the age of 12. She swears she never would have gotten through her Business Management degree without the help of her late soul dog, Mocha. She's worked in animal shelters in roles from kennel staff, management, and as a board member for over a decade, and has a serious case of the animal welfare bug.
At house parties, she's that weird friend that makes friends with the host's dog or cat instead of with other people. Currently, Cait travels full-time by RV with her husband Tom and their rescue dog, Luna.
She started Petrics to share her passion for the wonderful world of pets with others.

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