It is pretty common for us to see working dogs with broken teeth caused by trauma or chewing on hard objects. The life of a working dog makes them pretty susceptible to getting fractured canines and upper molars, but any tooth can be broken.
If you have had a broken tooth yourself, you would know the pain associated with them, and these are often not picked up as our dogs hide the pain associated with the fractures. We must watch for more subtle signs of a problem in our dogs, such as:
- Chewing on one side
- Stopping and starting eating
- Dropping food from the mouth when eating
- Excessive drooling
- Grinding of teeth
- Pawing at the mouth
- Facial swelling
- Shying away when the face is petted
- Sneezing or nasal discharge
- Refusing to eat hard food
While broken teeth are often seen as ‘not bothering’ the animal, they can have devastating consequences for our dogs. There are a few types of tooth fracture, but the two main types are with and without pulp exposure. The pulp is the blood supply and nerve inside the tooth. Even in cases where the pulp is not exposed, the tooth can become more sensitive to heat, cold and pressure, all causing discomfort or pain.
Tooth root abscesses can burst out through the skin and appear as a swelling or wound on the face. Antibiotics may resolve the problem briefly, but will reoccur if the offending tooth is not treated.
Another possible consequence is if blood vessels pick up the bacteria and they spread to other areas of the body such as the kidneys, joints or heart valves. Once this happens it is very hard to treat and prognosis is poor.
We are trying to be more proactive about diagnosing and treating teeth problems in our working dogs so give us a call to discuss any issues or even ask us to take a look in your dogs mouths while we are on farm.