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- To treat your dog’s abscessed tooth, a veterinary dentist will likely either perform a root canal treatment or pull the affected tooth out.
- The treatment for a dog’s abscessed tooth depends on the severity of the case as well as the pet parent’s decision based on the costs.
- Maintaining a good dental hygiene and avoiding hard chew toys and pulling games will help avoid dog tooth abscess.
How to treat your dog’s abscessed tooth is really up to a veterinary dentist. I suggest you have them examine your dog and let them decide whether he needs a root canal therapy or if it is better to pull the abscessed tooth out.
If your dog has noticeable swelling below his eye and he’s been pawing at his nose, you might think he’s been stung by a bee or other insect. While that’s possible, these also happen to be two common symptoms of an abscessed tooth.
What are the Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth?
Experts list the following as signs of abscessed teeth:
- Facial swelling below the eye (it can be as large as a golf ball)
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Discolored or fractured tooth
- Lack of ability to chew
- Increased plaque on teeth
- Pawing or scratching at his nose
Pet parents “often confuse this condition with an eye infection, insect bite or puncture wound,” writes Race Foster. “They may consider it something that, if left alone, will heal on its own. The untreated abscess will, in fact, often spread to 1) the eye, causing a very serious and potentially blinding infection; or 2) other teeth, causing them to be lost also. This is fairly painful for the animal, especially when eating. In dogs that stay outdoors or those with long hair, it may remain unnoticed for a long period of time.”
In severe cases, a tooth abscess can even break through the dog’s skin, draining the pus over the side of his face.
What Causes an Abscessed Tooth?
Periodontal disease is often a reason for dog tooth abscess. Dogs that frequently chew hard objects may also be more at risk to develop an abscessed tooth as bacteria can travel through a broken tooth. A worse case is if it develops into a tooth root abscess in dogs or any other dental disease.
“If left untreated, facial or mouth traumas, bacterial infections and diabetes can all contribute to the formation of an abscess,” petMD adds.
Older dogs are more susceptible to abscesses in their fourth premolar, which is also called the carnassial tooth. This tooth, located about halfway back on their upper jaw, is much larger than the other teeth.
“In wild canines, it is the main tooth used to break up or crush hard material in their diet, such as bones or large pieces of meat,” Foster writes. “Today’s canine diets, even the all-dry ones, really do not require this big ‘work horse’ tooth for the animal to adequately break up his food before swallowing. Still, it is there, and it poses some unique problems for the older dog.”
How is an Abscessed Tooth Diagnosed?
Your vet will examine your dog’s teeth and gums, and probably take an X-ray.
“Blood tests, on the other hand, can be used to determine if the abscess is caused by a more serious underlying medical condition,” according to petMD.
How is an Abscessed Tooth Treated?
In the past, the only way to treat an abscessed tooth was to pull it. But today there are more options available for pet parents.
Usually the fluid is drained around the tooth to get rid of the infection, petMD.com notes.
If the tooth needs to be pulled, it is done so while your dog is anesthetized, and the tooth cavity is also cleaned and drained. Afterward, you can place cold packs on your dog’s mouth and give him antibiotics to help reduce the inflammation, along with tooth pain medication to relieve his discomfort. You may also need to rinse your dog’s mouth with a chlorhexidine mouthwash.
To prevent tooth infections, you should limit your dog’s chewing and avoid feeding him hard, crunchy foods.
About a week after the extraction, your vet will likely perform a follow-up exam to ensure your dog is healing properly.
The carnassial tooth is difficult to remove correctly, Foster notes. It must be split in half so all the roots can be removed along with the tooth. If any portion of a root remains, the abscess may reoccur. This may result to a tooth root abscess which happens when the infection reaches the roots.
Fortunately, carnassial abscesses can now be treated with a procedure that is like a root canal. “This can be fairly expensive, but it does save the tooth,” Foster writes.
How Can I Prevent an Abscessed Tooth?
Regular brushing of your dog’s teeth helps prevent abscessed teeth from developing. Even if you have a stubborn dog that hates brushing, developing good dental hygiene habits in them should be at the top of your list of priorities.
“Limiting the amount of chewing on hard toys or objects or pulling on the dog’s teeth (through tugging) will also help reduce the likelihood of an abscess,” petMD.com adds.
Can you treat a dog tooth abscess at home?
A dog tooth abscess cannot be treated at home. Treatment from a veterinary dentist is necessary.
Will a dog tooth abscess go away?
A dog tooth abscess will not go away on its own. The affected tooth needs to be examined by a dentist to give it the right treatment.
How can I treat my dog’s abscess at home?
It is not advisable to treat a dog’s tooth abscess at home as it may worsen the condition. Only a veterinary dentist can tell what proper treatment your dog needs.
What is the fastest way to heal an abscess tooth?
Antibiotics is the fastest way to eliminate pain from an abscessed tooth, however, this does not mean that the infection will go away completely. The affected tooth needs to be checked to assess how bad the infection is.