Endodontics (Treatment of Pulp Cavity and Root Canal)
Endodontics indicates the structures inside the teeth like the blood vessels which provide nourishment and tooth development. The nerves inside the teeth provide sensation to outside stimuli like temperature and pressure. Both the blood supply and nerves are protected by the outside enamel and dentin which comprise the tooth’s hard structures.
Unfortunately animals’ teeth can be traumatized by external acute and blunt forces which lead to the death of the teeth. In acute forces the crown of the tooth fractures and exposes the endodontic system to bacterial ingress. The subsequent infection leads to the death of the tooth. In the case of blunt trauma, like Frisby catching or “tug of war”, the tooth’s blood supply which enters at the base of the root is damaged and the tooth undergoes significant inflammation and swelling. This eventually causes the tooth to die. Often there are associated color changes of teeth that have undergone trauma. Colors like red and grey are often seen in non-vital teeth.
The most common procedures for non-vital teeth is endodontics root canal therapy. The dead tissue inside the tooth is cleaned out and the canal sterilized before a permanent filling material is placed. The tooth can either receive a metal crown or a more aesthetic composite filling as a restorative. The advantage of root canal therapy versus extraction is that an important holding canine or chewing premolar can maintain its function.
** The referring veterinarian may start the patient on oral antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications when tooth fracture is noticed initially to enhance the success rate of vital pulp therapy or root canal therapy **