In honour of pet dental health month (February) I thought we’d update our blog with a subject near and dear to me! Dr Fraser Hale, a veterinary dentist, located in Guelph coined the term the “Knee Cap Rule” – this is a fantastic rule to follow to try to help keep our dog’s teeth safe. This states that you shouldn’t let your dog chew on anything that you wouldn’t want to get hit with in the knee cap! That’s because it is hard enough to have the potential to fracture your dog’s tooth!
Of course accidents can happen and teeth can fracture, for instance two dogs rough housing together and the teeth accidentally meet. But there are many products that people still give their dogs and that pet stores still sell that increase the risk of fracturing teeth, for instance any type of bone, nylon or very hard plastic fake bones, cow hooves or ANTLERS! As an aside bones are also a bad idea because of the risks of hollow bones getting stuck around the dog’s lower jaw, bones getting stuck in the esophagus, trachea, stomach or intestines. Bone fragments can also cause constipation or trauma to the intestines/colon.
When a tooth gets fractured it is concerning for your pet for two main reasons: 1. this is quite painful because the pulp (the inside of the tooth) is exposed and 2. the pulp exposure can allow bacteria to get inside of the tooth, called “ascending infection” which could lead to a tooth root abscess. Broken teeth can never heal or seal, like a broken bone can. If the pulp is exposed depending on the fracture the tooth should either have a root canal (referral to a veterinary dentist) or be extracted. Fractured teeth can be difficult to remove and therefore also expensive because the root of the tooth can still be solidly in place. Better just to avoid the broken tooth in the first place!