Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy involves removal of the pet's diseased or infected root canal. The most common indication for pet root canal therapy is a fractured tooth. Other indications are discolored (dead) teeth or abscessed teeth.
Many people have a negative connotation with root canals, which is mostly just hearsay. People who have had root canals usually associate the pain they experienced BEFORE having the root canal with the procedure itself. Either this, or the fact that the procedure was uncomfortable due to the fact that it is often a lengthy trip to the dentist which is top on many people’s list of phobias.
However, root canals in veterinary patients are actually a very positive procedure. The success rates for veterinary root canals is exceedingly high. The positives for root canal therapy in comparison with the only other option, which is extraction, are numerous and include:
- Significantly less pain
- Almost immediate return to function
- Keeps the function of the tooth
- Maintains jaw integrity
- No surgical complications
Positives of a root canal for a dog or cat are even more pronounced when a major tooth such as a canine or carnassial (chewing tooth) is involved. Therefore, root canal therapy is strongly recommended for preserving these strategic teeth.
Root canal therapy involves the removal of the root canal constitutes (pulp). These are the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue within the root canal system. Sometimes the nerve will still be alive (and painful) and other times it will be dead and infected. Regardless, the removal of this tissue will resolve the pain and infection. Following the cleaning step, the canal is filled and sealed with an inert/non-toxic material. After a complete fill is confirmed with dental radiographs, a restoration is placed in fracture site as well as in any access holes which may have been necessary for the procedure.
Following the root canal procedure, a crown may be recommended to improve the strength of the tooth.
One important point is that root canals are technical procedures and therefore should not be something to have done at a general practitioner. Of all veterinary dental procedures, this is the one when you should only have a dental specialist do the work.