Tooth resorption in a dog with crown destruction. Once tooth resorption affects the crown to the point of soft tissue exposure to the oral cavity extraction is required.
There is more than one type of tooth resorption. Tooth resorption is typically categorized as either internal or external with subcategories of each. Regardless of the type, tooth resorption is a common oral abnormality seen in dogs. Although the premolars of the lower jaw are most commonly affected, lesions can affect any tooth.
Tooth resorption is not typically observed with the naked eye; it is most often observed on radiograph (X-ray) examination
In cases of internal tooth resorption, the root canal system will show an enlarged area with smooth and clearly defined margins. The recognition and treatment of external and internal tooth resorption in dogs are important for overall health and comfort.
In this case there is a distinct periodontal ligament space seen radiographically so extraction of both roots is indicated. Ankylosis, however, is presently making this a difficult extraction.
Tooth resorption is considered painful once the lesion affects the crown, such that defects created in the crown permit oral bacteria to enter into the tooth.
Lesions deep in the sockets isolated from oral bacteria are likely not painful and so may not require immediate extraction. Any lesions that are near or through the level of gum attachment require extraction. They either are now or soon will be very painful and there is no way to repair the damage. We do not know what causes tooth resorption in dogs. We do know that lesions that have extended through the level of gingival attachment are very painful.
The molar on the opposite side is more severely affected and a periapical lucency is evident. Again extraction is the treatment. These are difficult extractions and should only be performed by general practitioners with considerable experience and comfort in the surgical extraction technique.
All we can do is monitor and extract teeth as they become clinically relevant. This will mean radiographing and examining the teeth on an annual basis or sooner if the pet shows signs of oral pain.
Referral to a specialist may be the best option.
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