Dr. Leon has been a Veterinary Specialist for 10 years and is the co-owner of VetDent the first network of Latin American Veterinary Dentists. He has participated in the research group Prof. Gioso (USP) in the laboratory of Comparative Ondontology (LOC) since it’s creation.
In 2004, together with Dr. Alexandre Wenceslas, he created the first mobile service for Veterinary Dental services of Brazil. He is also the coordinator of the Center for Training and Education in Dentistry Veterinary CTEOV – participating in the education of many fellow vets who will offer the same quality service in the future. Dr. Leon's website: Dentista Vet.
Borzoi International thanks Dr. Leon for contributing this important article to our site and taking exceptional care of Solange Mikhail's Borzoi Yuri as well!
My Puppy Broke His Tooth!
Cause: Puppies like chewing and Borzoi puppies are no exception. During this phase your puppy can break the deciduous (primary) tooth. A fracture can occur from chewing bones, rocks, metal, toys, any other hard material.
Why the broken tooth has to be removed? You may think that because the tooth is "just" a puppy tooth you can wait until if falls out, but that can be a costly and unwise decision. A fractured deciduous tooth is painful and quickly becomes infected. This infection can cause a draining tract, osteomyelitis, or damage to the permanent tooth. Therefore, a "wait and see" choice is not an option.
The pulp exposed contains nerve endings and is very painful for the puppy, which can cause loss of appetitite and be harmful to their proper development during a borzoi's fast-growing puppy stage. Therefore, a fractured deciduous tooth with pulp exposure requires extraction therapy as soon as possible
Who can treat it? If your puppy breaks a baby tooth it should be carefully evaluated by a veterinarian specializing in canine dentistry. This professional will have appropriate instruments and knowledge to determine the best treatment for the fractured tooth through physical and radiographic evaluations. The tooth layer that is compromised and the age of the animal should be considered.
The tooth: The tooth has three layers. The outside layer is a thin layer called the enamel. The second layer consists of a hard substance called dentin. The inside of the tooth is called the dental pulp, which is made up of arteries, veins, nerves and connective tissue. Once the pulp is exposed, it is very painful for the dog and oral bacteria can infect and kill the pulp as well as damage the surrounding tissues.
Usually, for a fracture that involves pulp exposure in puppies, the treatment of choice is extraction. In adult dogs the treatment is different: everything is made to preserve the tooth (pulpectomy, root canal therapy, restorative treatment with metal crowns) – as they are the permanent teeth.
Evaluation: During the evaluation it is necessary that the patient is under general anesthesia or sedated to avoid movement. It is usually a quick procedure, but because Borzoi are very sensitive to anesthesia, this topic should be carefully discussed with your veterinarian.
The intra-oral radiographs provide superior quality for examination of the fractured tooth with less radiation risk than standard-sized veterinary radiographs. Pre-extraction x-rays are essential to identify the location of the permanent tooth. A dental radiograph is helpful to determine the position of the permanent tooth as well as the extension of the fracture. The physical evaluation can be performed on the fractured tooth using a dental explorer and a periodontal probe. It can detect loose fragments, cracks, multiple fracture planes, separation between dentin and enamel and exposed pulp canals. The area below the gumline can also be checked.
The extraction: A fractured deciduous tooth should be carefully extracted with proper instruments. This requires skill and knowledge of dental anatomy. The procedure is delicate, since the permanent teeth (in the process of forming) are really close and can be damaged with any extra pressure or trauma in the region.
The goal is to extract the tooth and its entire root without causing damage to the developing permanent tooth. A general anesthesia is crucial for a successful procedure. Any small twist can break the deciduous tooth at the moment of the extraction, as it is a very thin and fragile structure. If that happens, it will involve more work and time to remove it and will need a larger incision.
Successful extraction of the deciduous fractured tooth
Extraction will result in a large hole where the tooth used to be, and necessitates that the tissues be sutured without tension (with absorbable stitches) to prevent food and debris from getting trapped in the wound.
To the left in Fig. 5 the suture is being performed.
Preventive care: While it is hard to change the behavior of puppies, try to avoid their chewing hard things like rocks, gates or any metal or iron housing. Do not buy hard bones as a treats. Rawhide or rubber bones are preferable. A collection of soft toys can keep your Borzoi busy enough not to pay attention to the forbidden things.
Yuri at home recovering in his comfy bed!
We thank Dr. Leon for taking such good care of Yuri and allowing Solange to be in the operating room and take pictures of Yuri’s procedure. Thanks go to Solange Mikhail for her help in translating the article for the Borzoi International Blog.