Have you ever heard of the upper 4th premolar? Take a look towards the back of the mouth, at the top. That first ‘big’ tooth behind the canine is the upper 4th premolar. This carnassial tooth has many uses, but the main one is chewing. The forces placed on this tooth can make it prone to fracturing!!

Many of the tooth abnormalities we see are related to this upper 4th premolar, and mostly it is related to what the dog is chewing. The biggest issue I see with this tooth is a FRACTURE! And some of the biggest culprits that cause these fractures are:

  • Antlers
  • Bones
  • Rocks
  • Hooves

Slab fracture of left upper 4th premolar extending above the gum line

Extraction of upper 4th premolar with absorbable sutures present

Enamel defect of right upper 4th premolar without pulp exposure

Normal left upper 4th premolar with mild tartar

What’s the big deal? My dog still eats fine.

Tooth fractures can present many different ways (enamel defects, enamel defects with pulp exposure, root involvement, among others). A fracture can cause:

  • Sensitivity
  • Pain
  • Jaw infection!

Treatment of these fractures can include such things as enamel bonding, root canal therapy with a veterinary dentist, or even full extraction of the tooth. We can reduce this risk for our pups with what we give them to chew. Choose products for chewing that have ‘give’ and are gentle on the teeth and gums. Good brands include Kong, among others.

Rule of thumb when choosing toys or chews: ‘If it hurts when hitting your shin, it is too hard for their teeth’.

Visit VOHC.org for recommendations for dental chews that are safe and effective for dental health.

Make sure to reach out to your veterinary team for detailed and specific recommendations curtailed to your pup!

Take care.
Dr. Mark Belyeu