Tooth Resorption in an Adult Dog

Ruby, an 8 year old German Shepherd, presented to Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists for her annual professional dental assessment and cleaning. Full mouth intraoral radiographs were obtained under general anesthesia and a thorough examination was performed to evaluate all of Ruby’s teeth and gingiva. Significant tooth resorption affecting the crown of the left maxillary fourth premolar tooth (208) was found. Calculus accumulation prevented this lesion from being visible while Ruby was awake, but  significant damage to this tooth was present.

Tooth resorption in dogs is a progressive condition that results in destruction of the normal tooth structure. There are two types of tooth resorption in dogs, internal and external, with the latter being more common. Internal resorption begins within the endodontic space (pulp chamber), which becomes larger and less distinct as the resorption progresses. This condition is often diagnosed strictly based on radiographic findings, however, it may result in a pink discoloration of the crown. External resorption often affects the root first and progresses coronally, with the periodontal ligament space and root becoming less visible as the tooth root is replaced by bone. External resorption may also result in a pink discoloration.

Internal resorption is painful, even if the tooth appears clinically normal. External resorption is not painful when it is only subgingival, but becomes painful when the crown is involved and has external lesions. The affected tooth should be extracted if it is mobile, has visible lesions (lesions exposed to the oral cavity), or has radiographic evidence of internal resorption. We extracted tooth 208 to prevent Ruby from experiencing continued oral discomfort.