Cats aren't commonly associated with chewing or exploring the world through their mouths like dogs, but they can occasionally engage in troublesome behavior that may harm their teeth. Our Ankeny vets discuss the signs and symptoms of fractured teeth in cats and when it is considered an emergency.
How do cats get broken teeth?
Our veterinary team at Creature Comforts Veterinary Hospital frequently encounters cases of fractured teeth in cats.
The feline species often experience tooth breakage, with a common victim being the canine tooth – the elongated, pointed tooth located at the front corners of their mouth. These tooth fractures typically occur as a consequence of skirmishes with other cats, gnawing on rigid objects, or unfortunate accidents involving vehicles.
A chipped or broken cat tooth is considered a fracture, and the severity level dictates the type of treatment the veterinarian requires. If you bring your kitty in for a tooth fracture, the vet will perform a dental examination and determine the best treatment as a result, ranging from tooth fillings to dental surgery.
Given the frequency of these incidents, cat owners need to familiarize themselves with the signs of tooth fractures in their pets!
How to Tell When a Cat Has a Broken Tooth
There are 4 main types of tooth fractures in cats and dogs:
- Uncomplicated crown fracture. A tooth fracture in the crown that does not expose the pulp.
- Complicated crown fracture. A crown fracture that does expose the pulp.
- Enamel fracture. A fracture or chip to the enamel (outer protective layer) of the tooth.
- Roof 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.
Signs & Symptoms of Broken Teeth 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
- 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
Is a fractured cat tooth an emergency?
If your cat experiences a significant tooth fracture, it may extend into the pulp, where sensitive tissues and nerve endings are located. This not only puts your feline at risk of mouth infection but also causes severe discomfort.
In such situations, your cat's tooth fracture should be treated as an urgent matter. In general, it is good practice to treat every tooth fracture and crack as an emergency.
Your veterinarian will be able best to assess the condition of your kitty's tooth to determine if emergency treatment is required.