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Discussion Starter #1
I have a question that I can't get a good answer on from my vets. I have a rescued Shep that I have had about three years. Apparently she had to fend for herself for quite a while before she was rescued. As a result (according to my vet) her teeth suffered. Recently she broke the large side tooth in half from top to bottom. A root canal will cost 1200 and then if we have to cap it it appears that will be another 1200. What is the downside to pulling that tooth? Will it cost her years of her life? Will it cause other problems? The vet says a root canal may or may not work and that a cap may be imperative. She does not seem to have any pain yet but I am expecting it. I just really don't know the downside to her losing that tooth. I do not have enough information to consider the cost v benefit of having a root canal and maybe a cap vs pulling the tooth. My vet does not give me a clear cut answer on this question. He is not a dog dentist and will not do the procedure but has referred me to one about 2 hours away from where we live. Anyone have any thoughts or experince in this issue?
 

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Quote: Recently she broke the large side tooth in half from top to bottom.
Are you talking about the large premolar???? My male recently fractured his 3rd and 4th (lower) premolars. I took him to the dentist and his feeling was to pull the teeth. My dog is 8 and has 2 crowns on his canine teeth so the dentist believes in preserving the teeth if possible. He felt I would have less chance of problems down the road if we pulled the teeth. He did repair two other teeth.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It is the large side canine molar is what dentist said one of the two large teeth which are found on either side top
 

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Where is the fracture within the tooth?

Zamboni fractured the largest chewing teeth - the molar. My vet -- a dental specialist -- was able to saw the tooth just on the other side of the fracture. He extracted the part of the tooth that had the fracture, did a Root Canal Treatment in the part that was still healthy, did a deep filling (no crown) over the RCT and that was oh, 8-9 years ago. The gum filled in around the extracted part, and she's still using that 1/2 tooth just fine.

Total cost back then was about $1500. She was under anesthesia for about 1-1.5 hours, but I'm pretty sure we cleaned her teeth at the same time.

Of course, you need a good specialist to be able to do a procedure like this. But depending where the break is, it's possible to save much of the tooth.

If the dentist says you can do an RCT and a crown, then I would seriously consider that a good route to go too (although I personally have never gone that route).

You see, on the other side of her mouth, several years later, the other molar fractured and actually splintered. (I used to let my dogs eat beef bones. I didn't know any better. Sigh....) We couldn't save it and we had to extract it. It does cause her problems whenever she has to chew something that's chewy or hard. I have to watch her when she eats kibble because sometimes, a piece gets by and she coughs it up. Did the extraction take years off her life? No. She's still bouncing around, eating, doing fine. The extraction was painful, but there was no infection. The gums sealed well and there have been no long-term effects at the extraction site itself, nor any effects on the adjoining teeth.

Nevertheless, I'm so thankful that we opted to save the opposite tooth.

The thing is, saving or losing one tooth now isn't a huge deal. But we don't know what will happen to the OTHER teeth as our dogs age. So I'm a big believer in saving any tooth I can now, just in case. RCTs do fail through no fault of the dentist. But if you have a good vet dentist and if you take good care of your dog's teeth (daily brushing, no hard bones, excellent nutrition, etc), an RCT with a deep filling can easily last a lifetime. An RCT with a crown has even better chances.
 

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The only advice/experience I have is from dogs I've owned in the past--in particular a daschund who lost several teeth throughout his life. Even at a fairly young age he had several teeth extracted because of decay, and it seemed not to affect him at all. By the end of his life, he was nearly toothless, but lived to the age of 18.

Give the vet dentist a call and see if they will offer any general opinions over the phone about the pros and cons of the proceedure. The cynic in me would keep in mind that the dentist stands to make more on the more complicated procedure than the extraction, but that's just me. $2400 to save a single tooth would be tough for me to swallow.

My totally unprofessional opinion is that a dog can loose one tooth without serious affect to health. Going forward, keep the rest of the teeth healthy, and I think everything would be fine.
 

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The risks involved with leaving the tooth is that it gets infected down the road or it fractures more. My dog had fractured the whole face of his premolar so the pulp was somewhat affected. My K-9 dentist who normally encourages leaving the teeth in if possible decided to pull this tooth and the one next to it as it was cracked as well to prevent futher complications.

If you pull it you won't have to worry about future infections. I don't know if you have to worry about the tooth moving or not.

If you do the root canal/crown you should just keep an eye on it to make sure there is no infection or further damage to the tooth.
 

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Just to clarify, I wouldn't recommend leaving the broken tooth in place. I was suggesting that extracting the damaged tooth might be a more reasonable option that reparing it. I don't think you should leave the broken tooth in place, for risk of infection, or pain.
 

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Actually, Tracy I wasn't referring to your post, we were posting at the same time!


I also wasn't recommending leaving the tooth "as is", if the dog doesn't need that tooth for anything, I would recommend the extraction as you may end up there in a year or two anyway! I think the only tooth I wouldn't pull is a lower canine, they are the harderst to extract and add to the stability of the jaw!
 

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Do to health issues, my Cocker was completely toothless by the time he was 10 (they were pulled) and he did great for the next six years gumming his food and treats. It didn't seem to bother him except I'm sure his mouth was dry because he drooled constantly.

Niki broke his big bottom molar down to the gum line and had it extracted, he never had a problem.

Just had Kellys lower molar pulled due to infection, so far no problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks. I knwo we either need to pull it or do the root canal but $2400 is a lot of money. And I was wondering if they could do well without that large tooth if they had the large tooth on the other side. But we are going to let him look at it and see what he reommends. My fear is that I don't know this vet and he will certainly make more doing the root canal and the cap than simply pulling it and will that make him prejudiced on which route to take? Thanks guys
 

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My experience with vet specialists is that the majority of time, they have suggested the most *reasonable* treatment. (Perhaps I have just been extremely lucky or maybe I'm just fortunate that my vet does not refer to specialists who are out to gouge people.) They review with me all of the options for treatment, which is what I want.

Then, when I ask them, "if this were your dog, what would you do?" they make a suggestion that often isn't the most extensive and expensive treatment.

If you don't trust this referral (and I understand why you wouldn't), then ask your vet for TWO dentists to choose from. Make appointments with both. If you get the same advice from both, then the answer is clear, even if it's the more expensive treatment. If you get conflicting advice, go back to your regular vet and discuss with him the information you got. Yes, that extra initial consultation will cost you a bit. But a second opinion up-front is sometimes the best information we can get, especially if we're worried about 1) spending a lot of money on a procedure or 2) doing an irreversible procedure that might have long-term consequences.

You're looking at both 1 & 2.

But...may I add one more thought? I often worry more about things, when it comes to my dogs, BEFORE they happen. I drive myself crazy with the "what if's?" You may go to the specialist; you may like him and find him eminently trustworthy; he may show you exactly what needs to be done, and why (dental xrays are often very clear and can be explained to a layperson easily). He may be able to assuage all of your concerns and answer all of your questions better than any of us can.

The only info you have is what your regular general practitioner vet has told you. You may want to meet with the specialist first; see what he says and get a solid estimate from him. It's possible that an RCT/crown isn't even an option. We simply don't have enough information.

Let's see what at least one specialist says before we worry much more.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I plan to go visit with te recommeneded dentist next week and see waht my impression is. Anyone else want to weigh in on this?
 

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Makre sure that the dentist is a certified vet dentist, not just one who does dental work.

Check the links section of the USA website under other/mis. The board certified dental vet list is there. I will only have a dog of ours worked on by a certified dental vet.

http://www.germanshepherddog.com
 
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