Pet Dental Health


The endodontic systems have now been completely cleaned and filled. This result will allow for complete healing as well as pain and infection free teeth.

All Root Canals are Not Created (or Performed) Equally.

Broken teeth are a very common problem in dogs, and in fact it has been shown that fully 10 percent of dog have a tooth with direct pulp (or nerve) exposure. Therefore, many pets are in need of treatment for this painful malady.  The only options for therapy of a fractured tooth are root canal therapy and extraction.  Veterinary Dentists generally prefer saving teeth via root canal therapy, especially strategic teeth like canines.

Root canals preserve the function of the tooth as well as avoid a painful extraction procedure.  Canine teeth have huge roots (Figure 1) and the extraction requires a large incision as well as drilling away jaw bone.  In addition, extraction has numerous potential complications including incision line breakdown and in cases of lower teeth extraction, jaw fracture.

Figure 1: Image of an extracted canine and fourth premolar from a large breed dog demonstrating the size.

Figure 1: Image of an extracted canine and fourth premolar from a large breed dog demonstrating the size.

These facts make saving these important teeth via root canal procedures the best option.  However, it is important to note that root canals must be properly performed for them to be successful.  Unfortunately, they are a not an easy procedure, and many clinics offering this service have not been properly trained.  Finally, since pets rarely show signs of oral pain, poorly performed and/or painful root canals, will not generally be appreciated by the owner.

In this case, root canals were performed on a police dog, which were rechecked at veterinary dental specialties and oral surgery.  There were no outward clinical signs of failure, however the dental radiographs revealed that the procedure was done very poorly. (Figures 2 and 3).

Recheck intraoral dental images of the left (2) and right (3) maxillary canine. In figure 2, it is obvious that the gutta percha point is way to small to fill the canal. In figure 3, the canal is only filled in the coronal half, leaving the most important apical ½ completely unfilled. In both cases (but especially the right side) there was periapical rarefaction associated with the tooth (red arrows).

Recheck intraoral dental images of the left (2) and right (3) maxillary canine. In figure 2, it is obvious that the gutta percha point is way to small to fill the canal.

In figure 3, the canal is only filled in the coronal half, leaving the most important apical ½ completely unfilled. In both cases (but especially the right side) there was periapical rarefaction associated with the tooth (red arrows).

In figure 3, the canal is only filled in the coronal half, leaving the most important apical ½ completely unfilled. In both cases (but especially the right side) there was periapical rarefaction associated with the tooth (red arrows).

Southern California Veterinary Dental Specialties & Oral Surgery had to redo the procedures, (Figures 4 and 5) which is more difficult and time consuming to perform.  Therefore, it is important to select only well-trained veterinary dentists for this procedure.

Post-op dental radiographs of the teeth after they had been properly endodontically treated.

Post-op dental radiographs of the teeth after they had been properly endodontically treated.

The endodontic systems have now been completely cleaned and filled. This result will allow for complete healing as well as pain and infection free teeth.

The endodontic systems have now been completely cleaned and filled. This result will allow for complete healing as well as pain and infection free teeth.

If your pet has a broken tooth, it is important to ensure that they are being treated by the very best board certified veterinary dentists. Find a board certified veterinary dentist.

Older Pet

Is My Pet Too Old for Anesthesia?

Owners of aging dogs and cats are often hesitant about allowing their pet to be put under anesthesia for a dental cleaning or other procedure. There is a fear that the pet is too old and not able to handle the anesthesia, but this is really not the case at all. As with humans, old age isn’t a disease and when using the proper anesthetic dosages and protocols, anesthesia is quite safe for an older pet — just as it’s safe for an older person. Continue reading “Is My Pet Too Old for Anesthesia?” »

Fractured Jaw in French Bulldog Puppy

This is Isabelle, a three-month-old French Bulldog puppy who suffered a broken jaw after being bit by a housemate. She was in significant oral pain and had moderate bleeding upon presentation.  She was referred to Veterinary Dental Specialties and Oral Surgery.  She was diagnosed the fracture and  scheduled for immediate surgery.

Continue reading “Fractured Jaw in French Bulldog Puppy” »

Fractured Jaw Repair in Small Dog

This is Sugar who suffered a broken jaw due to advanced periodontal disease. She had been seen at her family vet after being involved in a dog fight.  He had sedated Sugar to fully evaluate the fracture and had extracted the very loose molar in the area. Once he realized the jaw was fractured, he referred her to Veterinary Dental Specialties and Oral Surgery for care.

Continue reading “Fractured Jaw Repair in Small Dog” »

Labrador Retriever Tooth Extraction

A 7-year-old Labrador was referred in for a recurrent swelling under the left eye. The swelling responded temporarily to antibiotics, but would return a short time later.  The referring veterinarian did not notice anything that was obvious for a dental problem since both maxillary canines were externally periodontally healthy and only had uncomplicated crown fractures. Continue reading “Labrador Retriever Tooth Extraction” »

German Shepherd Composite Tooth Restoration

Penny is a 5 year old German Shepherd that was kicked in the face by a horse.  Aside from damage to several teeth, she sustained no other injuries.  Penny was anesthetized and a thorough oral exam revealed that she had several fractured incisors with pulp exposure and an enamel fracture to the left maxillary canine (204). Continue reading “German Shepherd Composite Tooth Restoration” »

The Importance of Regular Pet Dental Cleanings

We all understand the value of regular dental cleanings for ourselves. As a matter of fact, we generally go every six months regardless of our oral health. In addition, annual physical exams and laboratory exams are recommended for both humans and veterinary patients. This is all a function of current best practice which is “preventative medicine”. This type of care is ubiquitous in all forms of health practice, except veterinary dentistry, where we wait for disease to be present and then we treat it.  Continue reading “The Importance of Regular Pet Dental Cleanings” »

Pathologic Mandibular Fracture in an Older, Small Breed Dog

Classically, mandibular fractures were the result of significant trauma (hit by car, long falls, baseball bat accident), and in large breed dogs this is definitely still the case.  However, in our small and toy breeds, there is a condition seen with increasing regularity which is called a “pathologic fracture”.  Continue reading “Pathologic Mandibular Fracture in an Older, Small Breed Dog” »

Ask the Vet Dentist: What Questions Should I Ask My Veterinarian About Pet Dental Health?

As veterinary dental specialists, we want to help pet owners know how they can best partner with their family veterinarian to monitor and improve their pet’s dental health. We understand the main point of contact for most pet owners as it relates to pet health is their veterinarian, so we want to share a few tips on questions that are important to ask about your dog or cat’s dental health and the pet dental cleanings. Continue reading “Ask the Vet Dentist: What Questions Should I Ask My Veterinarian About Pet Dental Health?” »

Ask the Vet Dentist: What Things are Bad for My Dog to Chew On?

All of us who are doting pet parents love to buy new chew toys or treats for our dogs. We wander up and down the aisle of our favorite pet store or browse online for fun new toys we know will get tails wagging. But are there dangers lurking in among all of those items aimed at offering hours of chewing entertainment for our dogs. Continue reading “Ask the Vet Dentist: What Things are Bad for My Dog to Chew On?” »