Feb 22 2017

The most commonly fractured tooth (and the importance of dental radiographs)

While most people probably don’t lift their dog’s lips to check their teeth, my teeth and Watson’s teeth commonly get examined.  Go figure, we’re owned by a veterinarian.  Thankfully we do not have any fractured teeth and I would like to keep it that way!  The most commonly fractured tooth in a dog is the big tooth on the upper back side, commonly called the upper fourth premolar.  The tooth itself has 3 roots and can be very difficult to extract.  Oral surgery on that tooth requires dental radiographs before the extraction and nerve blocks (numbing the area) to make sure that we don’t feel any unnecessary pain when we wake up.  The roots must be divided with a drill along with bone removal on the outside of the maxilla (jaw bone).  This procedure usually averages anywhere from 45-60 minutes, just for ONE tooth!!  After the three roots have been extracted, follow up dental radiographs are taken to ensure complete extraction.  Don’t believe anyone that says, “They are positive they got the entire tooth.” without dental radiographs confirming it!

So what can pet owners do to help prevent this tooth from fracturing?  One would be keeping pets away from hard treats and toys.  Anything that doesn’t have a bend or give in it, can commonly cause this tooth to break.  Frequent dental cleanings to help remove the tartar and bacteria that live under the gum line is important too.  We don’t want the root becoming infected and compromise the health of the rest of the tooth!

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