Im taking my Jack Russel into vet to have one of her back teeth pulled.It is cracked right to gum. She will only be 3 in June. Why would it crack like that when I am buying her special bones, not just any bone. I am so scared for her as she is so timid. Do you think she will be okay after?
Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada
Marie, your dog almost certainly will be fine after the procedure.
Dogs can fracture (break, chip or crack) teeth in a number of ways. They most frequently suffer this sort of injury from chewing or gnawing on firm objects. Items such as rocks and galvanized steel are markedly harder than teeth; chewing on these items leads to fractured teeth on a regular basis. Cooked bones also are very firm. They are leading causes of dental fractures.
It also is possible, due to the laws of physics, for dogs to fracture teeth on softer items such as raw bones or specially designed synthetic tooth-safe bones. I realize that sounds counter-intuitive, but many things about physics seem counter-intuitive at first (for a good example, spend some time pondering the notion of a massive metal airplane rising 38,000 feet into the sky).
Dogs also may suffer fractured teeth as a result of blunt trauma. Many dogs have lost portions of teeth after accidentally being struck by a baseball bat that supposed to propel a fetch ball (my recommendation: use a ChuckIt instead of a baseball bat).
Regardless of the cause, severely fractured teeth need to be treated. Severe fractures open up a section of the tooth called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels and nerves. The exposed nerves in open pulps are painful. The exposed blood supply can carry oral bacteria throughout the body.
There are two options for a fractured tooth. A root canal can be performed and a crown placed in some cases. This procedure spares the tooth, but it generally must be performed by a specialist. It is expensive, and prone to failure over a period of years–that means the procedure may need to be repeated periodically.
Extraction of the fractured tooth, when performed properly, is a permanent solution. The tooth is lost, but most dogs do not suffer any change to their quality of life once the area has healed. Extraction can be performed by almost any vet, and usually it is markedly less expensive than a root canal.
Both procedures require a day in the hospital and a period of general anesthesia. Neither procedure is a fun experience, but even nervous or timid dogs generally get through them without incident.
Finally, don’t forget that both procedures have the potential to be painful. Make sure your dog goes home with some good pain killers.