Warning to the Tennis-Balls !
If the dog holds the tennis-balls in the mouth and rolls it around for 20 minutes or so two or three times daily, it’s not long before the teeth ca be worn down to the gum line.
What is the consequence of hard chew toy fracture or tennis ball abrasion? The hard toys are most likely to cause tooth fracture. If a fractured tooth has pulp exposure (a complicated crown fracture) the pulp will become inflamed and infected. This is pulpitis or, put more simply, toothache. If the tooth is not treated by either removing it altogether, or removing the pulp with a root canal procedure, the next stage will be leakage of toxins from the pulp to the bone surrounding the root. This so-called “root abscess” is very painful and debilitating. Often we are told that a dog with a fractured tooth is “not in pain”. How can we know this? The fact is the dog is not exhibiting pain and that is not the same thing. They don’t drive, read, watch TV or go to work. They suffer in silence mostly.
Tennis-balls abrasion occurs over a longer time. It is not a single catastrophic event but a long period of low grade, abrasion damage. As the teeth wear down it is possible for the pulp of the tooth to attempt an internal repair with tertiary dentine. This can protect the tooth from pulp exposure but some teeth may wear to the gum line without opening the pulp whilst in others the pulp will open resulting in the same consequences as the fractured tooth. Once the pulp is open, or close to exposure, the same rules of treatment apply – remove the tooth or remove the pulp in a root canal procedure.
(from the article of Norman Johnston RCVS, European & American Specialist in Veterinary Dentistry DentalVets, North Berwick.)