August 6, 2010

Fractured canine teeth

Cats do not have as many fractured teeth as dogs, but one particular fracture type occurs frequently. The canine teeth (fangs) of cats commonly have very small fractures of the tips of these teeth, which are easily overlooked. These fractures commonly expose the pulp chamber (nerve chamber) leading to the infection and death of the tooth. Because the exposure of the pulp chamber is so small, it can be hard to visualize. We see many cats with almost total destruction of the tooth occurring under the gum line, yet the tooth appears normal on visual inspection. Any fractured canine tooth in a cat, regardless of fracture size, should be inspected closely under anesthesia and have dental radiographs taken of the tooth to make sure that no painful problems exist. If diagnosed early in the process, these teeth can usually be saved, avoiding the pain of long-term infection and trauma of extraction of these long-rooted teeth.

Upper canine tooth of feline patient with a small fracture at the tip of the tooth.

Radiograph of this tooth showing enlarged root canal and total destruction of most of the root, secondary to infection. This tooth could not be saved and was extracted. The patient felt much better within a few days.