A Broken Tooth? Act quickly!


Gus came into AHNA with a broken tooth

Acting Quickly = Less Pain & Less Infection

PAINFUL: A broken tooth is painful but as a survival instinct, pets seldom express oral pain.

SUPERFICIAL FRACTURE: When the crown (above the gum line) of a tooth is broken superficially, the dentinal tubules (30,000 tubules per square millimeter) under the enamel are exposed and the pet experiences sensitivity. A sealant can be applied which reduces sensitivity and infection rate.

DEEP FRACTURE: When the crown is fractured deeply enough that the root canal / pulp cavity (nerves and blood vessels) are exposed, you will see a pink spot or actual bleeding.  If you call immediately, we can evaluate the fracture and determine which treatment best meets your needs.

  • VITAL PULPOTOMY is an option if the fracture is less than 48 hours old and only the crown is fractured and the patient is less than 2 years old. The fracture is smoothed and contoured and the root canal is sealed. The advantages include that the procedure is non-painful for the pet and the tooth is still alive and continues to grow and strengthen itself. Studies show an 88% success rate when performed within 48 hrs of the fracture and 41% if performed within 2 to 7 days (not advisable). The tooth should be x-rayed 6 months to 1 year later to confirm viability of the tooth. The disadvantage is, it may not work! Repeat x-rays are important.
  • EXTRACTION is always a choice with any broken tooth and is the standard treatment if the break goes below the gum line into the root or if it is an unimportant tooth or if there is periodontal disease. Disadvantage is loss of the function of the tooth and advantage is that it is always successful.
  • ROOT CANAL THERAPY: Teeth broken more than 48 hours with adequate structure in pets older than 2 years can be retained by performing a root canal procedure. The tooth is dead but continues to function. Success rates are approximately 85% if the tooth is abscessed and 95% if not. This may allow keeping an important tooth and the disadvantage is cost. Tooth should be x-rayed 6 months to a year later to confirm success.


Gus' broken tooth pictured on left and treated tooth pictured right.

Actual Case:  Gus (pictured above) lives with a Lab named Norman. They tried to catch the same ball at the same time and each accidently broke a tooth.  The owner reacted quickly by taking advantage of our evening hours and both pets were examined and then were treated the next morning. Gus’ Vital Pulpotomy saved his tooth and he was pain free upon awakening.