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Hannah broke off the tip of her tooth, and I have a consult next week with a veterinary dentist. I can see pink in the center, so she may need a root canal. Has anyone on the board had success with this? The molar is so big and she is only just turning 6 years old. I hate to have it removed. Any advice?

 


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There are a lot of differing opinions about broken/cracked teeth that range from "do nothing unless you have to do something" to "extract" to "root canal". My dogs have had so many broken/cracked teeth over the years and my experiences have varied.

 

One with two slab fractures had both teeth removed only when the one abscessed - which is when we became aware that the tooth was damaged at all.

 

One has had three canines removed. In the line of cattledog duty, he has not learned how to safely heel a cow and so has been clipped in the mouth three times. Two of those fractures definitely needed removal as the teeth had multiple cracks/fractures. One I only had removed because he was having the second of the three removed, and I didn't want to have to bring him back again for another anesthesia should the first tooth "go bad". Pulp was exposed but the tooth was otherwise sound and showing no problems. My vet did not recommend root canals for any of these (or our other dogs) because a tooth with a root canal is more fragile than a natural tooth and, being cattledogs, the likelihood of breaking the very expensively-repaired tooth and then requiring extraction would be cost-prohibitive - and just plan not make sense!

 

One has a damaged canine, very similar to the first tooth in the dog above, and we have taken the "wait and see" approach. After a couple of years, there are no issues. Again, pulp is exposed but has apparently "retreated" a bit or sealed over.

 

I can't tell you how many teeth one of our dogs years ago had that were broken, some to the gumline, and never an issue with an abscess, problems eating, etc.

 

For me, unless a tooth has anything but a piece broken off (in other words, if it has multiple damages, breaks, cracks, etc., so it is shattered at least to some degree), I take a "watch and see" approach. I know others have experienced very different results and opted for more immediate and invasive treatment.

 

SoloRiver once put a topic in the gallery about her dog's root canal on the canine, with detailed photos. You might try taking a look and seeing if you can locate that. It was an excellent reporting of what was done on her dog.

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I've also taken a wait and see approach for Bodhi, who has a broken tooth that looks very much like the one pictured. He doesn't seem to be in pain and doesn't seem to favor one side or the other when chewing. I wasn't even aware the tooth was broken till the vet found it in a check up.

 

I do check occasionally for any signs of infection or discomfort, but absent that I've let it go.

 

YMMV of course.

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Thank you for your insight, both of you. I found the older posts. Unfortunately I couldn't see all of the photos, but the posts were quite helpful (thanks Sue).

 

One thing that concerns me about a root canal is that, if the tooth has to be extracted later, it will be harder on the dog. Root canal teeth become brittle, and from personal experience, I know that the cap comes off without the actual tooth during an extraction. I'm not sure how likely it is that a root canal tooth would have to be extracted, but from personal experience I know it does happen.

 

Lots to think about. I'll wait to see what the veterinary dentist says after the exam. Thanks again.

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I had a root canal done on less than 2 year old ACD's canine this summer. He broke the tip off and since I work him on cattle I felt like it was the right thing to do. I thought it was a fresh break but it had already started to abscess at the root. I had an experienced canine dentist do it and his explanation of what can happen with abscesses and the jaw bone scared me to death. Part of the challenge is finding a qualified dentist.

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Thank you, JoDee. Hannah had her consult. This is an experienced veterinary dentist who comes recommended by both my primary and backup vet. I am still a little nervous about it, but my pet health insurance did a pre-approval so...

 

I had a root canal done on less than 2 year old ACD's canine this summer. He broke the tip off and since I work him on cattle I felt like it was the right thing to do. I thought it was a fresh break but it had already started to abscess at the root. I had an experienced canine dentist do it and his explanation of what can happen with abscesses and the jaw bone scared me to death. Part of the challenge is finding a qualified dentist.

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