You may hear the suggestion to “monitor the fracture to see if the tooth abscesses” before diagnosing and treating a fractured tooth.
With all fractures -no matter how minor- it is important to complete a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment ( COHAT ) as soon as possible.
The majority of the time fractured teeth HURT, and the signs are not obvious. The pain can be subclinical and chronic. Pets will try to hide dental pain, so the symptoms of pain may be extremely subtle.
The image below shows tooth fracture classifications according to the AVDC. You can imagine how inconsequential some of these fractures could appear to the naked eye. Dental X-ray included in COHAT is the best way to safely determine an accurate diagnosis and create a corresponding treatment plan.
If you follow the “monitor the fracture to see if the tooth abscesses” advice, you are waiting around for potential infection to spread. If the pulp is exposed, infection will certainly happen. So while you are “monitoring the tooth” the infection gradually moves from the dying tooth pulp to the alveolar bone. Then the bone and soft tissue around the now dead tooth become totally infected, resulting in an abscess and bone infection. Infection can now spread to the rest of the body.
Sometimes abscessed teeth can cause an obvious swelling and even a draining tract. With antibiotic treatment this can temporarily go away. But don’t be fooled. Antibiotic therapy is not definitive treatment. The infection will continue as soon as antibiotics are removed. The tooth issue must be addressed directly with extraction or root canal.
The options for treating fractures with pulp exposure are either extraction or root canal therapy. Waiting and monitoring is not an option.
Some toys and treats are harder than the enamel and can break teeth. Read more about Dog Toys and Treats that are tough on teeth.