Q: Last night our 6 year old flat-coat retriever, Oskar, was chewing a bone and chipped his top right fang. He chipped it pretty much in half because we could see a black string in the middle (probably the nerve). Is there anything we should do? It doesn’t seem to be bothering him. He can still eat his hard kibble. Please let me know what you think.
A: Jennifer, it sounds like Oskar’s tooth is fairly badly fractured. There are really only two options for the tooth, and unfortunately leaving it as it is isn’t one of them. The black string that you are seeing is most likely the pulp cavity. With the pulp cavity exposed the tooth will not remain viable. It will eventually die and cause more serious problems such as chronic infection and pain. The first way to deal with a tooth that has this sort of fracture is to seek the advice of a veterinary dentist who might be able to perform a root canal in order to save the tooth. The second option, as you may have guessed, is to extract the tooth. The fangs, or canine teeth, are not important for chewing so he will be able to chew perfectly well with one missing.