Fractured teeth can cause a great deal of pain for cats, and they should be treated right away. Here, our Erin vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment options for fractured teeth in cats.
Cat Tooth Fractures
Yes, it is. Infected material fills the inside of the tooth, eventually trickling into the jaw through the holes in the tip of the root. Because the bacteria have a haven inside the root canal, the body's immune system, even with antibiotic treatment, is unable to eliminate the infection. Bacteria escaping the apex of the tooth can spread over time, producing local dental pain every time the cat chews and infection in other parts of the body.
Causes of Fractured Teeth in Cats
Fractured teeth are frequent in cats and can be caused by external trauma (for example, being hit by a car or an item) or chewing on hard objects such as bones, hard food, or toys. The canine (fang) teeth and the massive upper pointed cheek teeth in the back of the mouth are the most commonly broken in cats.
Signs of Fractured Teeth in Cats
Signs to look for include:
- Grinding of teeth
- Excessive drooling
- Chewing on one side
- Pawing at the mouth
- Dropping food from the mouth when eating
- Facial swelling
- Refusing to chew on toys
- Refusing to eat hard food
- Lymph node enlargement
- Shying away when the face is petted
If you notice any of these, a trip to the vet for a dental examination might be necessary.
Further, you can examine your cat's teeth (if they allow you) to see if there is a chip or fracture. There are six classifications of tooth fractures in cats:
- Enamel fracture: A fracture with loss of crown substance confined to the enamel.
- Uncomplicated crown fracture: A fracture of the crown that does not expose the pulp.
- Complicated crown fracture: A fracture of the crown that exposes the pulp.
- Uncomplicated crown-root fracture: A fracture of the crown and root that does not expose the pulp.
- Complicated crown-root fracture: A fracture of the crown and root that exposes the pulp.
- Root fracture: A fracture involving the root of the tooth.
Treatment Options for Tooth Fractures
Most broken teeth require treatment to function painlessly. Ignoring the situation will result in the tooth being sensitive and painful. If the nerve is exposed, there are usually two options: root canal therapy or extraction. If the nerve was not exposed, the tooth can be repaired without the need for root canal therapy.
Root Canal: An X-ray of the tooth assesses the surrounding bone and validates the root's integrity. The unhealthy tissue inside the root canal is removed during a root canal. To prevent further bacterial infection and save the tooth, instruments are used to clean, disinfect, and fill the root canal. The long-term outcomes of root canal therapy are generally excellent.
Vital Pulp Therapy: In younger cats (under 18 months), vital pulp therapy may be used on freshly broken teeth. To eliminate surface microorganisms and inflammatory tissue, a layer of pulp is removed. To promote healing, a medicated dressing is applied to the newly exposed pulp. Teeth treated with this method may require root canal therapy in the future.
Tooth Extraction: The other option is to extract damaged teeth. However, most veterinarians attempt to avoid extracting cracked but otherwise healthy teeth. The removal of huge canine and chewing teeth requires oral surgery, similar to the removal of impacted wisdom teeth in human patients.
Preventing Tooth Fractures in Cats
Examine your cat's chew toys and snacks. Remove all bones, antlers, cow hoofs, nylon chews, and pizzle sticks from the house. Throw away any chews or toys that are difficult to bend. Inquire with your veterinarian or check for items bearing the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC.org) seal of approval.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.