German Shephard

February 2008
Dr Gerhard Steenkamp

A 6 year-old German Shephard dog is presented for routine yearly health check.  When evaluating the oral cavity you see the following lesions on the teeth in the rostral port of the oral cavity.

 Abrasion Feb 2008-01  

 a) What lesions are visible?
b) What treatment, if any, should be done?
c) How are these lesions brought about?


a) The mandibular incisor teeth are all worn down, level with the gingiva.  Both mandibular canines are severely worn and the pulp is exposed.

b) All teeth concerned should be evaluated to determine if the pulps are exposed.  This is best done with the sharp tipped explorer instrument.  The clinician should try to push the tip into the pulp cavities on the occlusal table.  If the explorer can enter the pulp canal the pulp of this tooth is compromised and will be infected.  All such teeth should be root canal treated or be extracted.  Dental radiography can also aid the clinician in confirming the diagnosis.

c) Excessive wear of the tooth is the main reason for this type of tooth destruction (abrasion).  Very often dogs carry objects like pebbles between the incisors and over time the tooth is worn down.  If the rate of abrasion is slower than the rate of tertiary dentin deposition in the pulp, the pulp will not be exposed and no treatment (other than removing the cause of abrasion) is necessary.  Fence biter dogs or cage biters usually have a very distinct abrasion pattern on the caudal aspect of the canines (see photo).  these animals weaken their canines tremendously and often this will lead to canine fractures at a very young age.  The pulp can also be exposed due to this type of abrasion


 Abrasion Feb 2008-02  




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