Root Canals in Dogs and Cats (Endodontics)
We routinely do root canals in dogs and cats. The procedure is almost identical to that of humans. When a tooth is broken and the nerve inside the tooth is dead or dying, we can do a root canal and save the tooth. It is really not complex.X-ray of dog’s tooth with root canal In fact, it is usually less traumatic than an extraction. Some teeth are so difficult to extract and have so many complications, that we charge less for a root canal to save the tooth than the extraction itself.
A root canal is where we clean out the inside of a tooth that has infected tissue. Each root has a hollow chamber that goes from the tip of the root to the crown of the tooth. It is the tissue, blood vessels and nerves that live inside the root that gets infected. Antibiotics don’t work on this since it no longer has a blood supply to carry the antibiotic into the tooth where it is needed. Only by taking out all that infected material can you restore the tooth to health.
We start by gaining access through a tiny hole in the crown of the tooth. Using a series of small to larger files, we can clean out the entire length of the root and reshape it more optimally for filling. We also use a solution that sterilizes the tooth and kills any remaining bacteria. After the cleaning process, we completely fill the tooth with an inert material to prevent re-infection. That is all there is to a root canal. The main challenge in a root canal is to make sure the fill is complete and dense so no bacteria are left to repopulate the area.
Often on posterior teeth, we can just put a filling in the access hole and finish off the procedure that way. On broken canines, however, we frequently opt for a crown. Crowns give the tooth back its original strength and protect it from future breakage. A good crown will go for a decade or more in most cases.