Dogs use their teeth like we use our fingers. To dogs, teeth are tools, useful for everything from playing with toys to opening packages. It’s no wonder they’re so susceptible to breaking!
Molars, premolars, and “fang” teeth can all break, or “fracture,” as vets say. Your dog may or may not alert you when they break a tooth – they may not even notice if the fracture isn’t severe! If it is, your dog is likely to be in a good bit of pain.
Here’s what to do once you notice your dog has a broken tooth.
0-30 minutes in: Call the Vet
The first thing you should do when your dog breaks a tooth is call the vet. Regardless of the severity of the fracture, your vet will want to examine your dog to make sure the breakage won’t lead to something more serious. If the fracture is small, the vet may even be able to cap it with a small crown or other implant to make it more comfortable for your pooch.
When a tooth breaks, it can expose the “vital” part of the tooth; its living root structure. When this happens, the bacteria-rich environment of your dog’s mouth makes infection incredibly likely. Exposed roots can also be very painful and the tooth will undoubtedly become inflamed. Schedule your vet appointment as soon as possible to ensure your vet can head off any potential complications.
30 minutes – 1 hour in: Make Your Dog Comfortable
While you’re waiting for your vet appointment, do what you can to make your dog more comfortable. Broken teeth hurt! If your dog is in a lot of pain, you may want to ask your vet to call you in some kind of painkiller to dull the ache until your dental appointment.
In the meantime, give your dog plenty of affection and love. Be sure she’s drinking water (not too hot or too cold since her nerves might be exposed!) and eating enough. If she’s in a lot of pain, you may want to switch out her regular kibble for wet food, or to add water to her dry food to make it easier to chew.
1 hour – 2 hours in: Prevent Another Break
If you know what caused your dog’s tooth to break, remove it if you can. Excessively hard toys or bones are a recipe for breakage; hard rubber toys are easier on both teeth and gums. If your dog is a chewer, talk to your vet about what you can do to preoccupy her mouth without putting her teeth at risk.
Dogs that are constantly outside without supervision are more likely to chew on things they shouldn’t, like rocks. If you’ve got a free range dog, think twice about letting her out without guidance if she’s constantly putting her health at risk.