A two year old heading dog presented to the clinic with a lump underneath the right eye. He had fever, and the lump had swollen his eye shut.
When we stuck the lump with a needle we found blood and pus. We started him on antibiotics and the next morning anaesthetised him, lanced the abscess, and placed a drain, to stay in 3-5 days. The vet expected to find a grass seed or similar foreign body in the abscess but none was found. However a tooth was found to have a crown fracture, exposing the pulp.
The pulp is the soft centre of the tooth that contains the nerves, blood supply and connective tissue. Prior to tooth necrosis, when first exposed, the viable nerve can be very painful, then over time, bacterial attack from the oral cavity results in tooth death. Then, once a tooth becomes nonvital, bacteria can track into the tooth and up the roots, causing a root abscess or in this case it tracked further to cause the facial abscess. Another consequence is a systemic bacteremia, which can result in serious systemic disease.
We often find owners reluctant to pursue treatment for fractured teeth because they think “it does not seem to bother the dog.” However, fractured and/or infected teeth do affect animals by creating pain, infection, and fatigue. Often however, these signs are subtle or hidden as our animal patients are typically much more stoic than their human counterparts. Owners do often see a noticeable improvement in their pets’ attitudes and energy levels after these teeth have been removed.
In this dogs case, we removed the offending tooth and haven’t seen him back with a reoccurring abscess. If you want your dogs mouth checked, or know they have broken teeth, let us know and we can advise if these need removing.