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Broken dog tooth questions

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  • Broken dog tooth questions

    So, our male GSD broke his top right canine yesterday. We still can't figure out how, but he is at the vet's today and they are taking a look, and have him on pain meds. They say based on his age (3 years), they would recommend doing a root canal and putting a crown on, rather than extracting it.

    Our pet insurance doesn't cover tooth repair, so we are on our own.

    Anyone had the root canal/crown procedure done on their dog? How did the crown hold up over time?

    The vet is trying to get estimates from various dentists now, but anyone care to share what theirs ran? How about the cost of 'just' an extraction?

    Our female GSD came to us from rescue missing several teeth that had had to be pulled (one canine, same one actually, and several small ones) and she does just fine. I'll talk with my vet about this, but are there potential issues down the line with extracting a tooth? Specifically a canine? I could see the problems of taking out a molar, but since our dogs will never have to take down prey to eat, I'm not sure he really needs that particular tooth....
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  • #2
    My 9-yr old shep mix broke one of her molars and we had it pulled. The vet said she'd do just fine without it and she did. I would be hesitant to do a root canal/crown because it could just break again, which would stink after paying all that money to have it done in the first place! Even without that canine tooth, the dog should be fine. After all, consider the way they are fed as domesticated animals....they don't need to rip/tear to eat like they would in the wild so one missing tooth is not going to be a problem. However, the other teeth *could* possibly shift as a result of the one going away. Something to talk about with your vet.

    I think we paid around $300 for my dog's extraction. But we also had her teeth cleaned at the same time. And my memory isn't great so who knows if that was the actual amount. Just seems like we always pay "around $300" no matter what we go in for


    • #3
      I went through this exact thing earlier this year. Top left canine. It was recommended to me that a root canal be done. So I made the apt. with the specialist and did the bloodwork. The dog's blood was a bit off, so I wated a couple days(I think) and we re did the blood. It was fine. I believe I was quoted $1200+ for the root canal.. I can't quite remember. And I had been told that the tooth with the crown would eventually break down over time. So I called my own vet who had already done 3 surgery on this dog in the last 6 months and asked him if he could just extract the tooth. He said sure. So the next day she went in, tooth was removed. It was (I think) just under $1000 for the one tooth extraction. I was a wee bit upset at that, but it had to be done. I really ought to have gotten a frequent flier discount that was the fifth surgery between the two dogs in 6 months. Want to talk about an expensive year! Care Credit saved us so both dogs had exactly the care needed.
      IMO I would just pull the tooth. My only complaint is somtimes I have to help her lip sit right and she leaks when she drinks.. There is always a trail of water when she walks away from the water bowl


      • #4
        our border collie broke her tooth years ago (she was trying to chew the vinyl siding off the house, freaking out in a thunder storm) and we had it pulled. It was an upper canine and I think I recall the vet telling me it would have been a different story had it been a lower canine that broke, that he would have reccomended a root canal in that instance).

        I called her "snaggle tooth" after that as her lip on that side would oftentimes fall behind her lower canine.

        I think our bill, like Ty's, was around $300.


        • #5
          Well, many moons ago I used to be a dental lab technician - yes, the "tooth fairy" that made the false teeth, and I recall the excitement when we made a gold crown for a doberman. Not a typical day in the lab. I have no idea how well it held up.

          My best friend had a blue heeler that was kicked by a horse and lost an upper canine, and it never bothered her one bit, and she lived to be 14 years old. We did nickname the horse "Dennis the Dentist" for a few years after the incident.

          And my oldest dog Murphy is missing two teeth, her lower front incisors, and recently had 3 molars removed, the vet has no idea how she manages to either lose them on her own, or break them so they have to be removed, but it is not stopping her from eating dry food at all.

          I think my last dental bill for her to remove the 3 molars cost a little over 500.00.
          There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


          • #6
            I don't know about the root canal/cap issue (poor dog!) but from being the aunt to a puppy-mill Yorkie (horrible teeth) I can say that one side effect of losing a front tooth can be that whenever the dog's lips are open, his tongue tends to poke out the gap, resulting in a dog who appears to be sticking his tongue out sideways. Not that this is a real medical problem, just an arresting visual.

            And the Care Credit site for vet bills.


            • #7
              Many years ago I assisted in a root canal of an upper canine on a police dog. For him it was necessary. But the crown did fall off during an arrest and the cops had to use a metal detector to find it! Since it's a upper canine on a pet, I would just pull it.

              (The reason they don't like to pull lower canines is that it is very, very easy to break the lower jaw).


              • #8
                My husband the dentist, and his friend the vet, took our Golden Retriever in for this procedure! They did the root canal placed a titanium post in the root and then placed a gorgeous gold crown on the upper left canine. The dog was 14 months old when they did this.

                It stayed in place for 13 years! If done properly the dog should have no problem at all with the new tooth.

                My husband and this vet have since worked on a number of sheriff's and Police dogs doing the same thing. Apparently dogs need their canines intact, so the vet tells me.

                They have placed serrated edges on the backs of the police dogs teeth to give them extra gripping power. Not one dog has ever lost their crown to date (knock on wood or gold!)

                Go ahead and have it done, just make sure that the folks doing the work have experience doing this. Gold is the only option that will last throughout a dogs lifetime and have the strength to hold up (so says my dear dentist husband)

                Besides it was always a fabulous conversation starter! "Does that dog have a gold tooth?"

                If your dog isn't in the conformation ring then the gold will be fine. If it is a show dog have them do porcelain. May not last as long but it will look like the original equipment!
                Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!!


                • #9
                  How close to the gum line is it broken?

                  My shep x has a cracked LF canine from doing bite work about 8 years ago. Vets looking for money says it has to come out- good friends that are vets say it's no problem. It's more than 1/2 way gone, has never bothered him, his bloodwork/ ultrasounds/comprehensive exams are always great.

                  We pulled both front canines and a heap load of other teeth on my rescued 7 y.o. great dane- his gums were really receeded and they teeth were bothering him. More needed to come out, but as my vet said, "I can only remove so many teeth, as well as the dog's testicles, from an old dog at one time!" (He was having prostate issues, so the nuts had to go too). He needed soft foot for a while but healed so he could eat hard food. His other teeth did get worse, as expected, but never caused him problems. He died at 9 after a great life, due to no problems with his teeth.


                  • Original Poster

                    It's broken about halfway down the tooth. After talking with a few dentists, vet actually recommends root canal but says crown is not important. She is supposed to get me pros/cons of extraction vs root canal. Root canal was quoted as $750-1000, extraction at $300-500. Root canal would involve going to either Jacksonville or Gainesville, and would probably be a 2-day deal, one day for blood work and to check that the tooth isn't damaged below the gumline, next day for actual root canal. That is actually a bigger issue than the cost at the moment. Neither DH nor I can easily take 2 days off work right. DH teaches Tues/Thurs, and I am just swamped.

                    Anyway, thanks for the input so far! Dog is on painkillers and antibiotics, so we have a couple more days to decide and work out logistics.

                    Of course, I also discovered last night that the mare has poked herself on something on the side of her withers (probably while rolling), and the injury is worse than I thought, the puncture goes rather deep and has abcessed. Managed to get a lot of junk drained last night and this morning, now am trying to figure out a way to keep it covered to keep stuff out of it while letting it drain....
                    Custom and semi-custom washable wool felt saddle pads!


                    • #11
                      [QUOTE=Grasshopper;4419679]So, our male GSD broke his top right canine yesterday. We still can't figure out how, but he is at the vet's today and they are taking a look, and have him on pain meds. They say based on his age (3 years), they would recommend doing a root canal and putting a crown on, rather than extracting it.

                      Our pet insurance doesn't cover tooth repair, so we are on our own.


                      My dog did something similar, although the tooth was cracked past the gumline and a crown wasn't an option. He had the tooth removed and has been just fine.

                      In fact, the same dog broke several more teeth trying to chew his way out of a crate while travelling, had those teeth removed, and is still doing fine. He eats hard food without any trouble and still plays tug.


                      • #12
                        I've had two broken teeth extracted, on same dog. One a lower canine. Bill each time was just under $600. No problems at all, dog seemed unaffected.

                        I'd love to hear a vet weigh in on this one, I can't imagine (outside of a police dog or show dog) why a root canal would be recommended over an extraction.

                        They are more expensive, can need more work in the future, and when I was working in a vet's office there was a difference in quality of work between vets. So a good one may last a long time but one not done as well may only last a year or two. That was 10 years ago now though, I'm sure things have changed.


                        • #13
                          The dogs don't need the tooth. Though I bet police dogs do. I bet it comes in handy, but so would a leg for a three legged dog. My toothless wonder has no problems catching balls, frisbee, playing tug o war,chewing bones.. you name it she can still do it. Eating was anadjustment, we did soft food first and now she eats a great high quality hard food. And the drinking thing is a PITA as I think she enjoys the leak a little too much. It is never going to break off, never going to need another surgery. It's just gone.
                          And howcome extractions foreveryone else was less than half the price I paid? I was mad about the price then, and I am again now!


                          • #14
                            My dog destroyed several teeth - including breaking a canine and several other smaller teeth - while trying to chew through the metal bars in her crate on an airplane (even though she had flown a dozen times before without incident).

                            We had consultations with a couple of specialists (Diplomates from the American Veterinary Dental College: http://www.avdc-dms.org/dms/diplomates.cfm )and both recommended against extraction of her canine because the root was so large that the procedure would be far more invasive than a simple root canal [ETA: it was her lower canine that she broke]. We opted against the cap because it wasn't really necessary - it wouldn't have built up her tooth to its former size anyway, and there was the possibility of additional maintenance down the road.

                            Ultimately, after x-rays, she ended up needing two root canals - one on her large canine and another on one of the smaller front teeth she had broken. Plus a couple of extractions of smaller teeth that she broken beneath the gum line

                            Total bill was $3,300, including a cleaning (and we didn't have insurance...). It has been a year and she's supposed to go in for another exam - under anesthesia - to make sure everything is fine and there's no potential for absesses. It was definitely an ordeal but from everything I've read it would be inviting trouble not to have done anything with the broken tooth - especially since hers broke off deep enough to expose the pulp. However, she has recovered very well and was happily eating her raw food diet and sqeaking her toys within two months after the procedure. Good luck.


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by Relative Ease View Post
                              both recommended against extraction of her canine because the root was so large that the procedure would be far more invasive than a simple root canal [ETA: it was her lower canine that she broke].
                              That's one of the things we're hearing as a reason for the root canal, since this involves a canine as well. Apparently it's more true re lower canines, plus there's additional risk of fracturing the lower jaw when extracting a lower canine, but same concerns hold, though are not as big an issue, for upper canines.

                              Thanks to everyone for input and commiseration so far!
                              Custom and semi-custom washable wool felt saddle pads!


                              • #16
                                We actually just went through this with my female, broke off her lower canine about halfway down, just hitting the pulp(of course!). If a fracture doesn't go below the gumline and doesn't involve the pulp of the tooth it is 90% of the time fine with no medical treatment. Pulp involvement will mean a dead tooth soon, a source of possible infection, which is why a root canal is reccomended. Essesntially medical 'killing' of the tooth so it won't cause problems later. In fractures below the gumline extraction is the best bet, so that pocketing can't set in and for abcesses around the roots.

                                Canine teeth is dogs are a pain in the ass to remove because the root is AT LEAST as long as what you can see above the gum, and runs at an angle under the other teeth, so you have to be careful to 1) get all of it, 2) not damage any other teeth, and 3) not either fracture the jaw(lower) or punch into the nasal cavity(upper). Hence why many vets will reccomend against pulling canines when feasable.

                                Root canals(or vital pulpotomies) work great and in most cases need no further maintence. Crowns and caps work about as well as they do in people, for some they're perfect, and others seem to have recurring problems with them. The current material of choice for pet crowns is titanium, it lasts forever if done correctly. If you're going the route of root canal I would spend the extra money and go to the specialist. Oh, and as far as dealing with work schedules, if you explain they may well let you drop her off Monday and pick her up Wed done with everything. I'm sure there would be some minimal boarding charges, but it might be worth it to make scheduling easier.

                                Vet Tech
                                You can't fix stupid.... but you can breed it!