If your dog chipped a tooth, first know that it’s not all that uncommon. If you’ve looked around our site, you’ll see we have many dogs, and we see tooth fragments now and then.
If you’ve ever broken one of your teeth, you know how painful this can be.
Dogs have a higher tolerance for pain than we do, and they may not indicate it’s causing them a lot of discomfort, but please consider this an emergency and seek out professional help quickly to ensure your dog isn’t in pain.
How do dogs chip or break their teeth?
Dogs chip their teeth on hard chew toys, rough-housing, or perhaps even just eating kibble if the affected tooth is unhealthy. Chewing on hard objects is probably the most common cause.
As always, we strongly recommend you contact your vet and take their advice over anything you read or hear anywhere else.
Guidance about fractured teeth in dogs
- The most frequently broken teeth in the dog are canine teeth (fangs) and large upper pointy cheek teeth (maxillary fourth premolars, for the purists out there).
- If you suspect that your dog’s tooth is fractured due to trauma, take him to the veterinarian immediately.
- If you suspect that your dog’s tooth is fractured due to a hard object such as an antler or bone, remove the foreign material and contact your vet in 24-48 hours.
- If the broken tooth has not been dislodged from your dog’s gum, there is a good chance that it will heal on its own.
- The most important thing to remember is to make sure you move the foreign material out of your pooch’s mouth and do not let him chew on it anymore. This means you may have to remove the object yourself. Be careful not to let your dog bite you!
- Once you get the foreign material out, take your pup immediately to see a veterinarian if he or she is drooling excessively and does not want to eat.
- If your puppy doesn’t seem too bothered by his broken tooth, continue to feed him his regular meals (and try to get him to chew on toys that won’t break his other teeth).
- If your puppy is uncomfortable, give him an over-the-counter pain medication prescribed by your veterinarian.
- Contact your veterinarian if the broken tooth has been displaced from your pup’s gum and you would like to make sure everything is OK.
Canine tooth fracture – what you and the vet will need to know
To understand the level of pain your dog may be in and the seriousness of the tooth fracture, we need to understand the different parts of the tooth and the classifications of fractures.
Canine tooth anatomy
- Enamel: The hard covering of the tooth. Enable is not permeable.
- Dentin: The permeable layer under the enamel. Interestingly enough, it is the second hardest material in the body (after enamel).
- Pulp: The innermost layer of the tooth containing the blood vessels, and…importantly…the nerves.
It’s helpful to understand the different levels of the common tooth fracture, as these determine the eventual corrective actions to be taken:
- Enamel fracture: A fracture with loss of crown substance confined to the enamel.
- Uncomplicated crown fracture: The fracture is limited to the crown of the tooth with some exposed dentin but no pulp exposure. This is often painless.
- Complicated crown fracture: A fracture of the crown that does expose the pulp cavity.
- Complicated crown/root fracture. A fracture of the crown that extends below the gumline, affecting the root of the tooth. There will be pulp exposure.
The seriousness of the fracture is often not readily apparent – dental Xrays or dental radiographs will most likely be required to determine the extent of the tooth damage.
Do chipped teeth in dogs cause any problems?
A fractured tooth in dogs is a problem. The damage can be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the fracture. The best person to make this call is your vet.
Tips for handling a broken tooth in dogs:
Call your vet. If the dog is in pain or bleeding heavily, it’s best to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Being quick does not mean skipping important steps. Here are some tips for handling a broken tooth:
- Rinse the area with room-temperature water. Never use warm or hot water when working on an injured dog. Warmth causes blood vessels to contract, and this makes the bleeding worse. If there is a lot of blood, use a clean cloth that has been soaked in cool water to wipe away the excess fluid.
- The dog should be kept quiet while you work on its injury. Keep your calm while handling him or her so as not to further stress the animal.
- Taking care of your dog’s broken tooth is not something that should be attempted at home if you are unfamiliar with such repairs. Your dog will need pain medication and possibly antibiotics after an injury like this, so it’s always best to have a veterinarian on hand to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Signs that your dog may have chipped a tooth
- Pain when eating
- Shying away from being petted
- Showing favoritism to chewing on one side or the other
- Swelling of the face or possibly even the neck area
- Lost interest in hard dog food
- No longer chewing on their favorite chew toy
How can we prevent further pain from the fractured tooth?
- Provide soft food or wet food, if the tooth has been fractured resulting in exposure of the pulp tissue (nerve). Don’t give your dog hard dog chews or bones, which can cause more damage to a broken tooth.
- If the nerve is exposed due to a fracture on a chewing surface, root canal therapy may be recommended by your veterinarian.
- If a tooth is not treated the pulp tissue will die and the tooth will have to be extracted altogether.
- A broken canine or chewing tooth can cause pain and in some cases necessitate the removal of that tooth
What can be done to fix broken teeth?
You need to know what to do when your dog breaks a tooth!
It can be a scary experience if you don’t have the correct information.
Also, broken teeth hurt!
Your dog’s pain threshold is probably quite high, but you can be sure there is a good amount of pain and discomfort, even if the dog isn’t showing it.
If you have ever had a broken tooth yourself, you’ll know what I mean.
There are 3 primary methods to deal with your dog’s chipped tooth:
- Root canal treatment. This involves removing diseased tissue inside, cleaning it up, disinfecting it, and filling it with materials that keep bacteria out so that your dog doesn’t get an infection (which would make their tooth really painful). It is usually done on older teeth where there’s not much left of the outside layer of hard enamel covering or on younger ones who may have been playing too rough and chipped off the outside of the tooth. A metal or tooth-colored crown may be put on once healing is complete, depending on how much of the original tooth has been lost.
- Vital pulp therapy is also used to treat broken or fractured teeth. This keeps your dog’s tooth alive after an injury so that it can heal itself. A hole is drilled into the tooth and a special dressing is placed around the pulp, where nerves are located that can help it regrow into its original form once again.
- Tooth extraction is simply pulling the broken tooth out. This will most likely be your vet’s last choice but can be the best approach. You may be tempted to look into dog dentures but our recommendation (in the linked article) is that doggie dentures are not a great idea.
Most of the time, you will need to see an oral surgeon to have either procedure done – but there are vets trained in some cases to perform root canal therapy too.
American Veterinary Dental College – find a veterinary dentist
This web page is a trustworthy source of excellence for all things regarding veterinary dentistry and your dog’s dental health. They also have a finder page to help you find a veterinary dentist.
NOTE: Please remember, if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s oral health, please make an appointment with your vet. This article was not written by a veterinarian and intended to give general information about the topic.
What can I do to prevent my dog from chipping its teeth?
Is your dog a victim of tooth breakage? Here’s what you can do to care for them.
- Dog Chews: Examine your dog’s treats and chew toys. If your dog is breaking teeth, you may want to consider removing chew toys that are super hard and/or that won’t bend.
- Diet: Feeding dry food will help decrease buildup on teeth from the saliva so consider changing to this type of diet if you have been feeding canned. Also, be sure that you are not feeding treats or snacks in between meals! This can cause plaque and tartar to build up on the teeth even further if they have a soft food diet.
- Brushing: Invest in a brush meant for dogs with soft bristles and medium-sized heads. Brush the dog’s teeth weekly and spend at least two minutes on each side of the mouth to keep tooth and gum health in check.
- Take a look on Amazon for some dental-approved chew sticks or toys.
My dog chipped a tooth, what do I do? – conclusion
You should consult your veterinarian for the care of any broken teeth.
Now that you know about the causes of chipped teeth, how to prevent them in the future, and how to deal with one today, it’s time to take action.
If you are not sure which option is best for your pet or need any of these procedures done at all, contact your veterinarian immediately and do not delay treatment.
Be mindful when choosing toys for your pup, as well as what treats they get each day!
The next step? Consider getting some dental-approved chew sticks or toys on Amazon, Chewy, or your store of choice to help maintain healthy teeth and gums!