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Teeth and Gums Basics in Dogs

Abscessed Roots

Root abscesses can affect any of the teeth, but the ones most commonly involved are the canines and the upper fourth premolars. Tooth abscesses are extremely painful and are accompanied by fever, reluctance to eat, and depression. You may see pus oozing around the tooth. X-rays confirm the diagnosis and show whether bone is involved.

An abscessed upper fourth premolar causes a characteristic swelling of the face below the eye. Eventually the abscess breaks through the skin and drains pus over the side of the face. A diseased tooth may break through the skin of the lower jaw and produce a similar condition.

Treatment: The abscessed tooth is extracted under anesthesia and the tooth cavity is cleaned and drained. In some cases the tooth can be saved by doing a root canal or endodontic procedure. Antibiotics are used to treat infection. Aftercare at home involves the use of chlorhexidine mouthwashes.

Broken Teeth

Broken teeth are common. They are caused by chewing on hard objects, such as stones and hard bones, by catching the teeth on the wire of kennels and cages, or by trauma.

Treatment: If the fracture involves only the enamel, the tooth is not painful and no treatment is necessary. However, a break in the crown that extends into the dental pulp can be extremely painful, and the dog may become depressed and refuse to eat. Restorative dentistry or extraction of the tooth will be necessary to prevent an abscessed root. Along with a root canal, a crown may be made to replace the damaged tooth. These can be made of metal or a new ceramic. This is most commonly done for working dogs such as police dogs. Dogs may not compete in conformation competition with a crowned tooth.


WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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