Unfortunately, these are very common. We see them in cats almost as much as we do in dogs. One would think that only a major traumatic injury would cause this but that is not the case. We usually see them after a fight or a collision with an unmovable object (tree, fence, car, baseball bat, etc.) but that is not necessarily the ‘cause’. Very often we see advanced periodontal disease having eaten away the underlying bone so that even a relatively minor accident can have catastrophic results.
I have treated cases where the owner was informed by a veterinarian that these cases will often resolve or heal on their own. This is not true. Sure, we will get boney closure in some cases but it is almost never in the proper place. Teeth fit together is a very precise pattern and once a fracture occurs, that pattern is no longer aligned. We also often see a granulation type of closure instead of bone to bone. This leaves the jaw weak and subject to re-fracture. It is also painful to the animal whenever they put pressure on the area in normal mastication (chewing).
We have come a long way in treating these cases. Combining a 24 hour animal hospital, veterinary ingenuity along with human dentistry’s advanced materials, we can now repair fractures with minimum trauma to the site. We used to have to try to wire and pin things together since a dog or cat won’t follow doctor’s orders and not eat on that side. The minute they feel better it is full bore eat and chew. This is not ideal for a mending bone.
We have brought a very new and advanced material from the human side called Ribbond. It is used to make temporary bridges for missing teeth.
When bonded properly the material acts like Kevlar (bullet proof vest material) and holds teeth and jaws very rigidly. We will usually use the wire only to put the pieces back in alignment and then hold them together like a cast using Ribbond. We get the strength of old time metal plates but don’t have to screw anything into the bone and this material is very lightweight and strong.
After bonding it into place we coat the entire fractured area with a resin temporary material to keep the teeth apart and yet hold them in alignment. Now your dog or cat can still eat and in only five to six weeks be back to normal.
This flowable acrylic over the rigid Ribbond splint forms a great cast for healing.