Unfortunately, dogs like to chew on bones, and sometimes those bones (whether real or plastic!) are hard enough to break a dog’s teeth! Other causes of dental fractures in dogs and cats are trauma (e.g. a collision with another dog, accidental contact by a golf club or baseball bat, or hitting the teeth on the ground when landing after jumping from a high place (cats) or catching a ball during a game of fetch (dogs).
Any tooth fracture with an exposed nerve or pulp will lead to a tooth-root abscess if it is not addressed. Root canal treatment offers an alternative to extraction, and prevents formation of an abscess in >90% of cases. Just as with human patients, the process involves removing the pulp or nerve from inside the tooth, cleaning the inside of the pulp cavity/root canal, and filling the canal with a material which takes up space and prevents bacteria from growing. Unlike human patients, most dogs and cats who have root canal treatment do not need a crown or cap placed on the tooth afterwards. However, we do offer prosthodontic crowns, usually made of a gold or titanium alloy, primarily for working dogs who need extra protection from further damage.