Commenter Jamie posted on The Saga of Miles’ Teeth, asking me the following:
My golden Obie broke his lower carnassial tooth. I was wondering what the long term effects of losing those teeth were. Like what does Miles’ mouth look like after extracting those teeth, does plaque occur on the opposing teeth, can miles chew/eat like normal not just soft food and do you regret not doing root canals.
Thank you for the comment Jamie! Your questions are useful, so I will write an update on Miles’ teeth here. Hopefully this can help others thinking about this topic.
Removal of Miles’ Upper Right Carnassial
Last April, I was doing a routine check of Miles’ teeth, and I noticed that his upper right carnassial tooth was shattered. The tooth had many breaks, the worst of which was a split right down the center of the tooth. I knew it wasn’t salvageable, and our trusted veterinarian agreed. Our veterinarian removed the tooth the following surgery day. The surgery was very long and labor intensive for our veterinarian, and Miles experienced swelling afterwards, but the removal and recovery went very well.
Removal of Miles’ Upper Left Carnassial
Later last year in October, Miles came running to me whining, and I checked his mouth. The top portion of his upper left carnassial had broken off. I was referred to a veterinary dental specialist. The hope was that since I’d discovered the break minutes after it occurred, that the specialist would be able to save the tooth and the root right away (a vital pulpotomy). The specialist informed me that since Miles was over 2 years of age, he was not a candidate for the procedure, and that my only two options were a root canal, or a removal. The specialist told me that a root canal would salvage the structure of the tooth, but would result in basically a replacement tooth that would be less durable than the original tooth. After speaking with both the specialist and my veterinarian, the consensus was that removal was the best choice. Following that decision, I then asked my veterinarian if he would be willing to do the surgery again. Thankfully, he agreed to.
We (veterinary dental specialist, our veterinarian, me) made the call to remove the tooth, rather than do a root canal) for three main reasons:
- Miles’ recent dental history. Both carnassials had broken/shattered in a short period, despite the fact that Miles has never been given rock-hard items to chew. The hardest thing Miles has exposure to is marrow bones, which are always given under supervision.
- A root canal saves the tooth structure, but, the altered tooth will be more fragile and brittle than a live tooth. Given the fact that both teeth were healthy and still broke/shattered, there would be a high chance that the salvaged but more delicate tooth would break again.
- We weighed the downsides of an absent tooth against the possibility for an additional future surgery. A root canal would have been Miles’ third surgery in a year span (Miles had a lumpectomy not long before the first tooth removal), and if the root canal resulted in another broken tooth, that would mean a fourth surgery in a short period of time.
7 Months Later
It has now been a year since upper right carnassial was removed, and around 7 months since the upper left carnassial was removed. Our veterinarian reminds me all of the time that his own dog had to have both of these same teeth removed, even though “I didn’t feed him rocks or anything!” Why Miles’ teeth broke, why my vet’s dog’s teeth broke, we will never know.
What I do know is that Miles recovered from both removal surgeries very quickly, and that he is getting along very well without the two large teeth. I think that the length of recovery and final outcome have a great deal to do with the dog’s anatomy and overall health, and the skill of the surgeon. There are many variables I can’t address accurately based on this one example, but, at least it can give you an idea of one dog’s outcome!
After both surgeries, Miles was back to chewing normally within a month. Miles loves bullysticks. I’ll admit even those short recovery periods without his beloved bullysticks was a tough time for Miles! Once his mouth was healed, he was right back at chewing, just as happily as before. He can’t chew with as much impact as he used to, but he makes up for it in vigour! Miles seems perfectly comfortable chewing with his lower carnassials with the absence of his upper carnassials. This is going to depend on the dog’s personality, and how much they like to chew, of course. But in Miles’ case, he is relaxed, loves to chew, and because of that, is very lucky. All of his teeth have continued to benefit from his love to chew. He continues to not require professional dental cleaning.
Again, I think knowing how much your dog likes to chew before tooth removal can give you an idea of how much they’ll like to chew post-removal.
My final answers to Jamie’s questions are:
- Here is what Miles’ mouth looks like now:
- I have not noticed an increase in plaque buildup anywhere since the removals. The removals have not caused problems for the lower carnassials. Thankfully Miles’ original love of chewing, and his original dental health given that interest have both remained just as strong as before.
- Miles can eat and CHEW anything and everything he did before.
- In Miles’ case, I do not regret opting for removal over a root canal on his upper left carnassial (a root canal was not an option for his upper right carnassial).
In Miles’ case, we’ll never know why his teeth broke in the first place. But I am greatful that Miles’ love to chew has prevailed (for his enjoyment, and his dental health!), and for the skilled work of my veterinarian. We are very lucky.
Thanks for posting this information. Our Norwich may be losing the same upper tooth in surgery next week and your account of what Miles experienced and your own decision-making really helps me feel informed in case it happens. Thanks again!
I am glad to hear that! It has been nearly 2 years since this post, and Miles is doing great without his upper carnassials. His lower carnassials are doing wonderfully. Good luck for your little guy!
Glad Miles is doing okay, and thanks from us and our Bedlington terrier Kitty who has broken her right upper carnassial and will be having it removed this week. Is this a more common thing with terriers I wonder? Maybe their bite is stronger than their teeth.
I completely agree that dental work is more common with terriers due to their bite and the size of their teeth — and their wonderfully responsive owners! Leaving broken teeth to rot and fester is inhumane, it is nice to see how many terrier owners are responsive to the care of their dogs.
I, too, found this very helpful. My dog somehow fracture the upper left carnassial tooth and this helped me weigh the risks and benefits. Thank you very much! Glad to hear Miles is doing well.
Aww thanks Laura! I am glad this was useful to you.
I’m so happy to have found this! My dog went in for a cleaning today and it was discovered that both of her upper carnassial teeth were cracked and had to be removed. One was even abscessed! Poor baby must have been in a lot of pain. I am so nervous to pick her up in a few hours. She is a very aggressive chewer and I usually give her nylon bones. My doctor suspects that’s what caused the cracks. Hopefully she’ll get along as well as Miles. Thanks again for this post!
Hi Linda, I am so, so, so happy to hear this article helped you!
Thanks for the information. My 9 year- old Lab Bibi just had four uppers removed, upper carnasials and first molars after previous cleanings and courses of antibiotics which helped only temporarily. I was glad to learn from you that she will likely be able to chew again normally. After just two days, she feels better. I wish I had stumbled on to this site beforehand. I wouldn’t have worried so much whether I was making the right decision.
Hi Gary, that makes total sense that cleanings and antibiotics would only mask the pain of permanently damaged broken teeth. I am so thrilled to hear that upon extraction, Bibi is feeling so well!! I am glad you found this article and grateful to have you here. 🙂
Howdy very cool blog!! Man .. Excellent ..
Wonderful .. I’ll bookmark your web site and take tthe
feeds also? I am happy tto seek out a lot of useful
information right heee within tthe submit, we need work out extra techniques
inn this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .
Hi! I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this. I just looked at my dog’s teeth today out of curiosity and both of his upper carnassials have exposed pulp and are essentially rotted. We’re likely going to extract them, as root canals are much more expensive and not always fool-proof. Hearing Miles’ story was very encouraging! I wasn’t sure how my dog, Boomer, would be with BOTH of these teeth gone. Reading this post has totally calmed my nerves. Glad to hear things turned out for the better for sweet Miles!
That is definitely the right way to go! If they have a tendency to do things like chew hard too, teeth that have had root canals can be more fragile the specialist told me. Let me know how Boomer’s surgery goes!
Hi Ashley, I am so glad to hear this article helped! I too was really drawn to the idea of root canals, but when I heard they were more brittle then natural teeth I realized extraction was a better choice for a harsh chewer. I am so glad to help you calm your nerves!
Thanks for posting such a wonderful, informative article about your experience with this. I feel fractured teeth in dogs isn’t talked about enough! My 5 year old Shiba just recently fractured her upper right carnassial tooth from a Nylabone(won’t be giving those to her anymore.) But I am having a very hard time deciding on which route to take. My dog does love to chew and I rely on giving her dental treats or bully sticks quite often to help with the health of her mouth. So my main concern is, if I did get the root canal therapy, it would eventually break again and I would have to get it extracted. I also feel guilty for removing it because it’s one of her main chewing teeth and my vet did advise to go the root canal route because the tooth looks healthy otherwise. :/ But in my area, the cost of the root canal is $3k!! And it just seems unreasonable at this moment. Your article is so reassuring and I’m pretty sure you’ve convinced me to go the extraction route. Thank you so much for sharing your dog’s experience with us!
Hi Andrea, sorry for the delayed response!!! I personally hope that you went the extraction route — please let me know what you decided! In the many veteiarnay conversations I have had, they have said the if your dog is tough chewer, a root canal is not an optimal option.
I am so grateful to find this post. I just adopted a dog with teeth issues and am in fear they will need to be removed. Glad you had a happy outcome
Aww, I am so glad to hear that. How wonderful that the dog you adopted will be getting much-needed dental care. Let me know if you have any questions!
I am so glad I found this article. I had given my dog a steak bone on a Tuesday and she kept making a funny movement with her mouth the next couple days. On Saturday morning she jumped up in bed with me and made that mouth movement again. So I took a small LED flashlight and held it in my mouth and opened hers to my horror of finding the front half of her left Carnassial pointing sideways into her cheek, but still attached to the gum in the front. I tried to pull it but it didn’t come out. She went and hid in her cave crate. Later she came out and I did the flashlight and opened her mouth again and this time pulled the broken piece off. I could see the root canal opening into the broken off piece. I made an appointment with my Vet and he suggested removal but their earliest date was 2 weeks + 2 days away. So we scheduled it but now my work began researching, asking for Veterinarian references, calling multiple Veterinarians, etc. Now, today, I was giving her a small dehydrated chicken breast treat and having her bite it on the “good” side… so I thought. She kept switching it over to the side the tooth broke off. Something didn’t seem right so I opened her mouth to the horror of seeing here other Carnassial is also cracked in half but both pieces are still fully in tact to the gums. Now I have to call my Veterinarian back tomorrow and request a quote for two Carnassial teeth removals. I’m so grateful you actually showed photos inside your dogs mouth. That was extremely helpful. Thank you. Warm regards, Linda Thornton
Hi Linda, I didn’t see this comment until now, thank you for sharing your story! I am really glad the pictures and article helped. How is your pup now?
Thank you for posting about this issue. My Bella had her upper right carnassal removed two years ago. This morning we gave her a raw meaty bone to chew on and she leveraged it just right and now has a slab fracture with root exposure on her left carnassal. Looking at root canal (if even possible) vs extraction because of chewing concerns if both are missing. She sounds a lot like Miles in that she is an avid chewer and should be just fine with tooth extracted.
Hi Cindy! Sometimes what happens is that both carnassials are cracked at the same time, but one isn’t as bad as the other, and it doesn’t fully present until later on. The specialist I spoke with told me that root canals are more vulnerable than the original teeth, so if the dog broke the teeth already, it can happen again. They also said the root canal needs to be performed ideally VERY soon after the break occurs. I think removal is a great choice. What sort of bone was it?
My dog had one upper carnassial removed a few years ago and I noticed a few days ago that the one on the other side is cracked. We go to the dentist today. I’ve been struggling with the extraction option over other more involved procedures because she’s only 7 years old and I’m worried she’ll have trouble eating. But, she’s very anxious and undergoing several procedures at the vet would be hard on her. Thanks so much for telling your story and letting us know your dog’s quality of life hasn’t been impacted.
Hi Rebecca, thank you for commenting! Oftentimes with multiple carnassial breaks, they happened at the same time but one wasn’t visible until years later.
What the specialists told me was that if the break is captured immediately and if the dog is under 6 years old, a root canal is possible, although, the recovered tooth will not be as strong as the original tooth. They told me that for dogs over 6, full removal is optimal. So in your pup’s case, removal is a great choice! As you can see with Miles, removal did not affect his quality of life or chewing activities. 🙂
You mentioned several procedures — beyond removing the broken tooth, are there the procedures you are considering having done at the same time as the extraction? Let me know and I am happy to provide any insight I can!
So glad I found your page! My dog went to get his upper right carnassial fracture checked out back in August. Our vet had initially told us everything is okay and was sealed. Went in for another follow up this weekend and the vet let us know that the exposed pulp is probably causing him a lot of pain. I was upset that our first vet only bandaid-ed the problem and now was facing a big surgery for our boy! But glad to see Miles is okay, and glad to know that Charlie will be able to make a full recovery 🙂 I feel so much more at ease
Hi Natalie! I am so glad this post helped. A few things have happened like that to me too, and my only guess is that vets are under tremendous pressure at times not to suggest expenses people don’t want to pay maybe? Not everyone is like us perhaps? I know I am like you and I’d rather address it right away! I am sure Charlie feels great now!
This was a super interesting read. Thanks so much for writing about this issue. I have just returned home from the vet with my dear girl Bella who had both her upper carnassial teeth removed today. Hers were shattered, likely from her aggressive chewing of anything she could get her teeth on.
I felt very guilty about having to remove her teeth and worried if she would have difficulty for the rest of her life no longer having these teeth, your article about this topic has given me renewed hope for a normal, happy and healthy life for my wee girl.
Aww thanks Karla! I am really glad Bella will be feeling great now! Definitely she will have zero problem adjusting!
Hi, so pleased Miles is doing well. Found this post of course since my own guy has two of the same broken teeth. He also loves bully sticks. I was floored at his appointment the other day when the vet dentist said bully sticks can do this!! Just an FYI. Ugh right?? Take care!
Hi D! That is too bad, how crummy. Miles recently broke a front tooth on a slow feeder. Similar to your bullystick incident, it is true that dogs can break their teeth on nearly anything if they go about their chewing just right. Once you know your dog chews hard you can still find bully sticks that are less dense. I hope he feels better soon, thank you so much for commenting!
Thank you so much for this – our dog had two of them removed yesterday because she broke them God knows how and we were so so concerned about her quality of life moving forward. This gave me so much assurance. Thank you!
Awww I am so happy to hear this AL!
Hi. Thank you so much for sharing Miles’ story and experience! I’m glad he’s doing well and back to normal. My young dog somehow chipped his upper left carnassial, and I’ve been so stressed about what to do. I feel guilty that the tooth will need extracting and worry about how it might affect him, but after reading about Miles, I feel more at ease and that extraction might be the better choice in the long run. Thank you!
Absolutely DeeDee, if your vet thinks the chip is at all painful, extraction is the way to go, I think! My dog never seems to care about having missing teeth but I know he’d notice pain a lot.
Really, really appreciate this info. My 18-month-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi fractured her left upper carnassial (with pulp exposure) a couple days ago–heaven knows how, since she doesn’t get hard bones. I’ve been debating about treatment via root canal therapy vs. tooth removal. Besides the fact that RCT is cost-prohibitive (NOT covered by her health insurance AND a 4-hour drive away), my main concern is the long-term structural integrity of the treated tooth. She’s a firecracker, and loves to chew, so rather than my freaking out that she’ll damage her expensive dental work every time she does, I believe I’ll opt for removal, despite her young age. One of my previous Corgis had to have a carnassial removed, but at a much older (7+) age, and I recall that it didn’t slow him down at all. I have confidence in my vet’s skill in this regard, so thank you for helping to clear up my questions about her “post-carnassial” quality of life!
I am so glad the article was helpful for you! I will do anything for my dog, so it was actually helpful for me to be talked down from RCT by both the specialist and my veterinarian, and I am very happy they did because my dog like yours breaks his teeth in weird ways! Post carnassial life is still going great for my pup!!
Hey, facing a carnassial extraction now, due to it being chipped , with one of our girls. Any insight into whether we should let the regular surgeon at our vet office do the extraction, or use a vet dental surgeon? We love our vet, but we don’t know the surgeon at all. Not sure if this would best be done by a specialist? Any advice would be appreciated by this stressed dog mom. THX!!
Hi Colleen, I feel your worry, I’ve been there!
This is something I looked into as well.
Here are the questions I asked the dental specialist AND my regular veterinarian who performs surgeries:
“How long of a wait time is there for the surgery?”
“Given I will take the day off of work, are you willing to schedule my dog first that day, and allow me to come sit with my dog in a waiting room or quiet area while they wake up from anesthesia?” If you are able to do this, make sure to emphasize to them that you will be quiet and out of the way and just cuddle your dog. They will need to do routine checks on your dog such as blood pressure etc so they will need to know you will be very unobtrusive. The alternative is to ask them if you can pick your dog up as soon as it is safe to (rather than at closing with everybody else) because then you can cuddle your dog at home, rather than them being in a kennel while they are confused.
Lastly, I would ask your vet if they recommend the surgeon there, or the local dental specialist. They will have a really good idea because they will know if their surgeon doesn’t enjoy extracting teeth, etc!
Luckily from what I have heard extractions can be a lot of work for the surgeon sometimes for deeply rooted teeth, but they are very routine!
Hugs hugs hugs, your pup will be ok — comment again after surgery to let everyone know how it goes and which surgeon you went with!