The upper 4th premolar in the dog is also known as the carnassial tooth. It is one of the largest teeth in the mouth and plays an important role in the dog’s ability to chew. The carnassial tooth is located directly under the eye and one of its three roots lies close to the boney orbit in which the eye is set. The tooth is triangular in shape with a sharp point. Because of it’s shape, it is predisposed to being fractured, particularly when a pet bites down on a substance which is harder than the tooth itself. Common offending agents include bones, cow hooves, hard nylon toys and rocks.

When the tooth cracks, the root canal becomes exposed to the bacteria in the mouth. They ascend up the canal and cause an abscess at the tip of the root. Over time, the abscess causes the bone around it to dissolve and a draining tract will develop below the eye.

Fractured Tooth Abscess at Root: X-Ray Showing Abscessed Root

If we catch the broken tooth before the abscess develops, we can perform a root canal procedure to save the tooth. In this procedure, the blood vessels and nerves in each root of the tooth are drilled out. The canals are sterilized and then packed with an inert material. Then access holes are filled with a composite material. In most cases, the tooth will then be prepared for a crown. Impressions of the tooth are made and sent to a dental lab where a custom metallic crown will be made. When the crown is returned to us (usually within 1 week), we will re-anesthetize your pet and cement the crown to the tooth. The metallic crown is much stronger than the original tooth and will generally keep the tooth safe for life.

If we don’t examine our patients from Alta Loma, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Ontario, Claremont, Fontana and the Inland Empire until the abscess has occurred, we must treat it surgically. In this case, we will anesthetize your pet and radiograph the area to determine the extent of the damage. We may be able to save the tooth with root canal therapy, or we may have to extract the fractured tooth and then scrape away all of the infected bone around the roots. A drain tube is often installed to ensure continued drainage of any pus that may form in the abscess cavity. A culture of the area is sent to the lab to determine the proper antibiotic therapy. Antibiotics are generally given for 4 to 6 weeks after the surgery to ensure the sterility of the bone.