Root Canal Therapy
What is it?
Root Canal Therapy involves the removal of the pet's diseased or infected root canal system (nerve). The most common indication for pet root canal therapy is a fractured tooth. Other indications are discolored (dead) teeth or abscessed teeth.
Root Canal Therapy is one option when the nerve system becomes infected. The other is Vital Pulp Therapy
Root Canal Therapy
What is it?
Root Canal Therapy involves the 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, 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 because it is often a lengthy trip to the dentist, which is top on many people’s list of phobias.
Why Root Canals?
When a tooth is broken with the root canal exposed and/or dead/infected/abscessed, the only way to resolve the infection is to remove the root canal system. This can be accomplished via extraction, or root canal therapy. We recommend root canals for all teeth, especially “strategic” teeth such as canines and carnassial (chewing) teeth. They are a superior choice to extractions for your pet for several reasons. While the below is true for all teeth, it is magnified when strategic teeth need care.
Procedure to End Pain
However, root canals in veterinary patients are actually a very positive procedure. The success rate 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:
While the below is true for all teeth, it is magnified when strategic teeth need care.
- They are much less painful than extractions. The patient is sedated, the nerve removed and the canal sealed (see below) and the pet wakes up feeling better than when they went to sleep. With an extraction, there is some to significant surgical pain.
- In our experience, extractions have a far higher complication rate (wound breakdown) compared with root canals.
- The pet maintains the function of the tooth which can have numerous advantages such as: keeping the opposite tooth clean, improved eating and play function, and avoiding lip catching.
The basic technique of root canals is as follows:
- Small holes may be necessary to provide access to the root canals
- The pulp (nerve) and/or infected tissue are removed
- The canal is flushed with disinfectant
- The canals are sealed to avoid future infection.
- A filling is placed in the tooth.
- Ideally, the tooth is protected with a crown.
At VDS, our (anecdotal) success rate is near 100%, with thousands of happy pets
Following the root canal procedure, a crown may be recommended to improve the strength of the tooth.
One crucial point is that root canals are technical procedures and, therefore, should not be something to have done by a general practitioner. Of all veterinary dental procedures, this is the one when you should only have a dental specialist do the work.