Fractured Teeth

Fractured Tooth Repair for Dogs and Cats

Tooth fractures are common in dogs and cats. Cats will often fracture their canine teeth due to a missed jump or a fall. Dogs can fracture their teeth in front (canines and incisors) associated with play injuries, fighting, impact trauma, or in some cases excessive tugging. Dogs fracture the teeth in the back of their mouth associated with chewing trauma. The objects that frequently cause dogs to break their chewing teeth include hard plastic/nylon toys, real bones, antlers, horns, hooves, and rocks. The tooth has a thin layer of mineral material (enamel) on the surface and the living tissue (pulp) in the center. In between these is a thick layer of porous bony material called dentin. Dentin has thousands of microscopic tubules that contain nerve endings and fluid. The common types of tooth fracture seen are:


Complicated crown fracture (CCF)

A CCF results in direct exposure of the pulp to the oral cavity. When this happens, there is rapid bacterial invasion into the pulp. Teeth with CCF should be treated with either extraction or root canal therapy (see separate entry on endodontic treatment). For young pets (less than 11-12 months old) with relatively fresh tooth fractures, an endodontic treatment called Vital Pulp Therapy may be an option to preserve the tooth.


Uncomplicated crown fracture (UCF)

UCF is a fracture that exposes the dentin, only, with no direct exposure of the pulp. When a UCF happens, there is about a 25% chance that bacteria can invade the pulp through the dentinal tubules. When a tooth has a UCF and has no evidence of endodontic disease, it may be reasonable to seal the surface of the tooth using a liquid adhesive sealant (dentin bonding) or a composite restoration (tooth-colored filling material).


Crown-root fracture

In some tooth fractures, either CCF or UCF, the fracture extends below the gum line. If the fracture extends far below the gum line, the affected tooth may be prone to developing progressive periodontal disease. Extraction is the best option for some of these teeth.