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

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.

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.