You Make The Diagnosis: Dog With Worn Teeth

This is a picture of the incisors and canine teeth of an adult dog.  The fingers are holding the upper lip off the teeth on the right side of the dog’s head.  Notice the abnormalities in these teeth.  The incisors (small teeth between the big canine teeth) in the middle of the upper and lower jaw are worn down to the gum line.  If you look closely, you can see the outer layer of enamel as it surrounds the pulp cavity (canal)  in cross-section.  The lower canine tooth or fang as it is sometimes refered too, is worn from the top to the bottom.  The black line down the center is the dead pulp in the cavity. 

Now that you have identified the abnormalities, answer the following questions:  What caused this severe damage to the teeth?  Is this condition painful?  What can be done to help this dog?


Dianosis:  Excessive tooth wear caused by untreated allergies  

The severe damage was caused by allergic dermatitis or allergies.  The dog itched so badly that it wore down its teeth gnawing on its own skin.  Over the course of time, the protective enamel dissappeared exposing the pulp cavity within. 

This is a very painful condition for two reasons.  First, all the nerves inside the tooth are now exposed.  Second, bacteria can infect the roots through the open cavity resulting in tooth root abscesses.  

A dental x-ray is needed to determine if these teeth can be saved.  Do to the severe damage, I would guess that most are beyond repair.  Extraction is the only thing that will make this dog pain free.  In addition, the allergies must be controlled to stop the dog from gnawing on itself and damaging the other teeth.  Animals who itch constantly are absolutely miserable!

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.