Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy performed by one of the veterinary dental specialists at the Animal Dental Center is a safe and highly effective procedure used to save a pet’s diseased or fractured tooth.
“Root canal” is the term used to describe the natural cavity within the center of a tooth. The pulp is the soft tissue within the root canal which includes the nerve and blood vessels.
When the pulp is injured or diseased it becomes inflamed and eventually dies. The most frequent causes of pulp death are tooth fracture, periodontal disease, trauma (e.g., severe blow to a tooth), and disruption of the blood supply to the tooth. Whenever the pulp is exposed to the oral cavity, bacteria will enter the tooth and, if left untreated, cause an infection to build up at the tip of the root, forming an abscess. Eventually the bone supporting the tooth will be destroyed, and pain and swelling will often accompany the infection. Without root canal therapy (endodontic treatment), the tooth will eventually have to be removed.
The Advantages of Saving the Natural Tooth With Root Canal Therapy
Good oral health is important to the health and well-being of our dogs and cats. Pets use their teeth and mouth similar to the way humans use their hands for grasping and interacting with the environment. Saving the pet’s natural tooth has many advantages including:
What Happens During a Veterinary Root Canal Procedure?
During a root canal procedure the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and filled with inert material. The root canal is then capped with a composite filling much like those used in people.
Will My Pet Need a Crown After Root Canal?
While most pets would benefit from the strength and protection of a crown after root canal they are not mandatory. Click here for more information on veterinary crowns.
Alternatives to Root Canal Therapy in Pets
The only alternative for a tooth in need of root canal therapy is surgical extraction. Most veterinary dentists try to avoid the surgical extraction of teeth that can otherwise be saved (i.e., a healthy but fractured tooth) The large canine teeth in dogs and cats which they use for grabbing and holding things, and the large carnassial teeth in dogs which are important for chewing, are the teeth most commonly treated with root canal therapy. The root of the canine tooth (which extends far below the gum-line inside the bone) is both longer and wider than the crown, the crown is the white part of the tooth you can see above the gums. Extraction of canine teeth involves specialized oral surgery, comparable to removing impacted wisdom teeth in human patients. Thus extraction is more invasive and the pet also loses the function of the tooth.