Should A Cats Broken Tooth Be Removed?

Cats use their teeth for eating, grooming, and defense. Like humans, cats have different types of teeth including incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. Their teeth play an important role in their overall health. However, cats’ teeth can become damaged or fractured from trauma or advanced periodontal disease. When a cat fractures a tooth, it can be extremely painful and lead to additional health complications if left untreated. Determining the best course of treatment will depend on the severity and location of the fracture. In many cases, extraction of the broken tooth is necessary. This overview covers the causes, symptoms, risks, and treatment options for a cat’s broken tooth.

Causes of Broken Teeth in Cats

One of the most common causes of broken teeth in cats is trauma or injury. Cats that go outside and get into fights with other cats or animals are at risk of suffering bites or blows to the mouth that can fracture teeth. Indoor cats can also experience trauma from falls or accidents that result in broken teeth.

Chewing on hard objects is another frequent cause of broken cat teeth. Cats like to chew on things like bones, toys, rocks or other hard materials. Over time, this can weaken or fracture their teeth. Cats that aggressively chew on hard objects are especially prone to eventual tooth fractures.

As cats age, their teeth can also weaken and become more prone to breaking. Older cats with advanced periodontal disease may have teeth that fracture more easily. General wear and tear over time can contribute to weaker teeth.

Other causes of broken cat teeth includeauto accidents,Damage to the tooth from plaque and tartar buildup can also lead to decay that weakens the tooth and makes fracture more likely.

Signs of a Broken Tooth

There are several signs that may indicate your cat has a broken tooth. The most obvious sign is a visible chip or break in the tooth. Carefully inspect your cat’s teeth, looking for any abnormalities. A broken tooth may have a rough, jagged edge or an exposed pulp chamber.

Facial swelling around the affected tooth is another common sign. This is caused by inflammation and infection spreading from the tooth. You may notice swelling on your cat’s face, especially under the eye on the side with the broken tooth.

A broken tooth is very painful and can make eating uncomfortable. Your cat may show signs of mouth pain like excessive drooling or foul breath. The irritation causes increased saliva production. You may also notice drops of blood-tinged saliva.

Cats with a broken tooth often have difficulty eating due to the pain. Your cat may refuse food or only eat soft foods. They may chew only on one side of their mouth to avoid putting pressure on the painful broken tooth. Your cat may also paw at their mouth.

If your cat exhibits any of these signs, examine their teeth closely. Look inside the mouth for broken teeth. Get veterinary care as soon as possible if you suspect a fracture.

Risks of Leaving It Untreated

Leaving a broken tooth untreated in cats can lead to serious health risks and complications. Some of the main risks include:

Infection – The inner pulp of the tooth is exposed with a fracture, which allows bacteria to enter and cause infection of the tooth and root. This can spread to cause abscesses or infections in the bone around the tooth (source).

Tooth Root Abscess – Bacteria penetrating the pulp canal can cause a painful infection and abscess at the root of the tooth. Left untreated, this abscess will continue to grow and destroy surrounding bone tissue (source).

Bone Loss – Infection spreading from the tooth can lead to deterioration and death of the supporting bone around the tooth root. This bone loss can become severe over time.

Pain – Exposed tooth pulp and infection will cause significant pain. The cat may have difficulty eating and grooming. Pain can also change behavior and personality.

Pros of Extracting Broken Tooth

Extracting a broken tooth in cats can help prevent further issues and provide relief. Some of the main benefits of extraction include:

Prevents infection – A broken tooth exposes the pulp and inner structures, allowing bacteria to enter and cause infection of the root and surrounding bone. Extracting the tooth removes this source of infection.

Relieves pain – Fractured and broken teeth are very painful. Cats often stop eating due to oral pain. Removing the painful tooth provides immense relief and improves appetite.

Prevents further damage – Leaving a broken tooth untreated can lead to other problems like abscesses, cysts and mouth tumors. Extracting the damaged tooth early prevents these issues from developing.

According to the American Veterinary Dental College, extraction of diseased teeth is imperative as soon as possible to “eliminate sources of infection or inflammation and to prevent damage to surrounding tissues”


Cons of Tooth Extraction

While tooth extraction is often necessary in cats with severe dental disease, the procedure does come with some potential risks and complications to be aware of.

General anesthesia carries inherent risks, especially in older cats or those with other health conditions. Anesthesia can negatively impact blood pressure, respiration, and other bodily functions. Your veterinarian will take precautions, but anesthesia reactions can still occur in rare cases.

According to Memphis Veterinary Specialists, other possible complications after extraction include:

  • Damage to the jaw bone
  • Untreated cavities left in the mouth
  • Tooth fragments accidentally left behind
  • Infection
  • Swelling and pain

Make sure to monitor your cat closely after surgery and alert your vet to any concerning symptoms. Though major complications are uncommon, it’s important to watch for signs of trouble during the recovery period.

Alternatives to Extraction

In some cases, a veterinarian may recommend alternatives to completely extracting a cat’s broken tooth. These alternatives aim to save as much of the original tooth structure as possible while addressing the underlying issue.

One option is a root canal, which involves removing the pulp of the tooth and disinfecting the root canal. Then the root canal is filled and sealed to prevent further infection. Root canals allow the tooth to be saved without extraction (DVM360).

Another alternative is tooth restoration using dental composites or crowns. The damaged section of enamel can be removed while preserving the healthy tooth structure. A crown is fitted over the remaining tooth to restore form and function. Crowns provide protection for weakened teeth (Animal Medical Specialists).

Though likely more expensive than extraction, these procedures can spare the cat’s tooth and avoid complications from extraction. They allow maintenance of chewing and biting function. The cat’s owner should discuss options with their veterinarian to determine if an alternative procedure is appropriate.

Recovery After Tooth Removal

The recovery timeline after a cat’s tooth extraction can vary depending on the severity of the procedure, but most cats will be back to normal within 7-14 days. After a tooth extraction, it’s important to follow your veterinarian’s at-home care instructions to ensure proper healing. This usually involves restricting activity for at least 1-2 days after surgery and monitoring the incision site for any signs of infection like swelling, redness or discharge [1]. Hard foods should be avoided for 7-10 days since chewing may disturb the surgical site. Soft, wet foods are ideal during the recovery period.

Some cats may need to stay on pain medication for 2-3 days after the surgery to manage discomfort. It’s essential to give all medications as directed. Watch out for any decrease in appetite, which can be a sign of lingering pain. Make sure litter boxes are easily accessible so your cat can eliminate without difficulty. You may need to clean the mouth gently with gauze and warm water to keep the area clean while it heals. Avoid strenuous play or activity for at least 1-2 weeks until the vet confirms complete healing.

With proper at-home care and limiting activity, most cats recover fully within 2 weeks after a tooth extraction. But if you notice any concerning symptoms like swelling, bleeding, difficulty eating or lethargy, contact your veterinarian right away, as these may be signs of complications.

Cost of Tooth Extraction

The cost of extracting a broken tooth in cats can vary depending on your location, your veterinarian, and the extent of your cat’s dental issues. However, some general price ranges include:

The average cost per extracted tooth ranges from $50-130 according to MetLife Pet Insurance1. This is just for the extraction itself and does not include an exam, anesthesia, or aftercare.

Total costs can range from $500 on the low end to $3000 for more complicated extractions according to BetterPet2. Complex procedures, infections, and multiple tooth extractions will be more expensive.

According to Catster, estimates generally fall around $60-140 per tooth3. However, expenses like anesthesia, x-rays, antibiotics, and follow-up care will likely bring the total bill higher.

In summary, for a simple single tooth extraction, most cat owners can expect to pay $100-300 out of pocket. However, the total cost can vary dramatically based on your cat’s specific dental needs.


In summary, a cat’s broken tooth should usually be extracted if the fracture exposes the pulp cavity or root or if infection is present. While tooth extraction carries risks like pain, complications from anesthesia, and damage to surrounding teeth, leaving a severely broken tooth untreated also poses dangers like abscesses, tissue necrosis, and systemic infection. Less severe fractures may be candidates for more conservative treatments like smoothing sharp edges or applying sealants. Ultimately, a veterinarian should examine the specific fracture and your cat’s health history to determine if extraction is truly warranted or if other options exist. If extraction is recommended, be sure to follow all post-op care instructions to facilitate healing. Though expensive, addressing a significantly broken tooth promptly is crucial for your cat’s comfort and long-term health.

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