Bonded Sealants for Fractured Teeth

Fractured teeth are a very common occurrence in our pets, especially large breed dogs. This is because they tend to be more orally active and chew on hard things which break their teeth. Mm in addition, they are often more energetic and run into walls, etc.  When the nerve is directly exposed, it is called a complicated crown fracture.  If your pet has an exposed nerve, this procedure is not indicated.  Root canal therapy or extractions are the only real options for a tooth with direct pulp exposure.

Fractured teeth are a very common occurrence in our pets, especially large breed dogs. This is because they tend to be more orally active and chew on hard things which break their teeth. Mm in addition, they are often more energetic and run into walls, etc.  When the nerve is directly exposed, it is called a complicated crown fracture.  If your pet has an exposed nerve, this procedure is not indicated.  Root canal therapy or extractions are the only real options for a tooth with direct pulp exposure.

In contrast, teeth which have been fractured without direct pulp exposure are termed uncomplicated crown fractures. These fractures remove the enamel and expose the underlying tooth structure called dentin. In our experience the majority of large breed dogs have at least a few teeth with dentin exposure. Dentin is a living structure with a significant nervous supply. Dentin exposure results in pain (sensitivity) akin to the pain we feel with a deep cavity. In addition, the root canal system can become infected through small tubes (called dentin tubules) which run from the root canal to the enamel. Finally, the exposed tooth surface is much rougher than the normal enamel, and therefore plaque and tartar accumulation is enhanced, hastening the onset of periodontal disease.  For these reasons, we strongly recommend a bonded sealant on all fractured teeth without pulp exposure.  In short a bonded sealant will:

  • Reduce sensitivity (pain)
  • Block off the pathway for infection
  • Smooth the tooth to decrease periodontal disease

Bonded sealants are a relatively easy and inexpensive treatment. Prior to performing the sealant, a dental x-ray must be taken to make sure the tooth is not already infected.  If root canal infection is seen radiographically, a root canal or extraction is necessary.  If the radiograph is normal, the bonded sealant is applied via the following steps

  1. Smooth the tooth with a fine diamond bur or sanding disc.
  2. Place a bonding agent which fills in the dentinal tubules and blocks off the pathway for infection
  3. Seal the tooth with an unfilled resin (similar to clear nail polish)

In our experience, these last a long time (at least a year), unless the tooth re-fractures.  For this reason it is critical that you choose the correct chew treats for your pet.  Ask the staff at SCVDS&OS for recommendations.

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