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Cat Tooth Fractures: Is It an Emergency? What to Do Next

In cats, fractured teeth are something that our veterinarians in Clearlake see quite frequently. It is most commonly caused by chewing on hard objects, rough play, or direct trauma. In older cats, the tooth may have simply worn down. But when is a broken tooth a serious issue that needs to be addressed? Our Clearlake explain when to take action.

How do cats get broken teeth?

The most commonly broken tooth in cats is the canine; the longer, sharper tooth at the front corners of the mouth. These tooth breaks are usually a result of fights with other cats, chewing on hard objects, and even trauma such as a fall or being hit with something.

A chipped or broken tooth in cats is considered a fracture, and the level of severity dictates the type of treatment required. If you bring your kitty into the vet because of a tooth fracture, the vet will perform a dental examination and determine the best treatment, ranging from tooth fillings to dental surgery.

Given how common these injuries are, it is important for cat owners to know how to recognize tooth fractures in their cats.

How to Tell When a Cat has a Broken Tooth

When it comes to cats and dogs, there are four primary types of tooth fractures:

  1. Uncomplicated crown fracture. A tooth fracture in the crown that does not expose the pulp.
  2. Complicated crown fracture. A crown fracture that does expose the pulp.
  3. Enamel fracture. A fracture or chip to the enamel (outer protective layer) of the tooth.
  4. Root fracture. A tooth breakage that reaches the root.

While the different types of tooth fractures range in severity, they often present themselves in the same way: pained symptoms in your cat.

Symptoms of a Broken Tooth in Cats

The first step to getting your cat help for their fractured tooth is recognizing the problem in the first place. Below are some signs and symptoms of broken teeth in cats that you might notice. 

  • Food avoidance or chewing on one side of the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Teeth grinding
  • Facial swelling
  • Food falling out of the mouth when eating
  • Squirming or running away when the face is petted
  • Pawing at the mouth

Please get in touch with our Clearlake veterinary dentists as soon as possible to schedule a dental examination for your feline companion if you observe any of the above symptoms.

Diagnosing a Broken Tooth

To diagnose a broken tooth, the vet will perform a dental exam on the cat. This may or may not require some sedation, based on the cat’s temperament. The vet will ask you when you first noticed the fracture, and what you believe has caused it. 

Treatment of a Broken Tooth

If the tooth has not broken down to the pulp, it is simply a cosmetic issue and does not need to be fixed. However, if the pulp is exposed, the tooth will need to be extracted or treated with a root canal. 

Is it an emergency if my cat broke a tooth?

If your cat has a severe tooth fracture, the breakage could reach the pulp in the center of the tooth, which contains the soft tissue and nerve endings. This could lead to infection of the mouth and severe pain. In this scenario, your cat's tooth fracture is an emergency. 

In general, it is sound practice to treat every tooth crack and fracture as if it were an emergency situation. A veterinarian will be in the best position to evaluate the condition of your cat's tooth and determine whether or not it is necessary to require immediate medical attention.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you believe your cat has a broken tooth, contact Clearlake vets today to have it checked out.

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Clearlake Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Clearlake companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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