Why would a dog or cat need a crown?
This is a good question. For many pets it is the only way to save the tooth and maintain its ability to eat and function. Some categories of pets that need crowns are show dogs, police dogs, guard dogs, and agility dogs. These pets use their canines and other teeth in the day to day performance of their jobs and a missing tooth would prevent the dog from carrying out its job
But even dogs that are simply the family pet can and do need crowns on occasion. If the broken tooth is a canine, then a crown is often indicated. Canines form the corners of the dentition and stabilize the entire bite. Missing canines lower the dog or cats ability to grasp and rip meat, defend themselves and maintain proper occlusion.
Crowns protect the teeth from further breakage and damage. If the tooth has had a root canal, a crown is almost mandatory in many cases. Between the broken tooth that presented itself at exam and the access opening we drill into the tooth for getting inside in order to do a root canal, the tooth can be severely compromised. The crown brings this tooth back to more of its original strength.
How do you do a crown on a dog?
About the same procedure as in a human is done in a dog. First, if the tooth is broken and needs a root canal, we do that. Then we build the broken part back up, if needed, with a resin like epoxy in order to have more to hold on to. That tooth is then reshaped to make sure that a metal jacket (crown) will fit all the way over the tooth. An impression is made and a bite recording is done and sent to a human dental lab for the construction of the crown. Once we get it back, we then cement it into place for the final restoration.
A crown might seem drastic to do on a dog, but it is vital for working dogs to keep these very important teeth. A police dog without its canines is at a distinct disadvantage when biting and holding is needed.
A police dog with a severe fracture of the lower canine. We actually treated this just like a human tooth in that we did a root canal, post and core buildup and then a crown. It turned out perfect as you can see in the next two pictures.
Performing a root canal procedure.