A pet’s fractured tooth may result in a referral to Dr. Kristin Walker, board certified veterinary dentist; in today’s blog the basics behind root canal therapy, why it’s a good treatment option, and what to expect on the day of surgery and for post-operative recovery.
We all know how painful tooth injuries can be; pets can experience the same discomfort from a broken tooth. Fractured teeth are a fairly common injury in pets, often caused by chewing on hard items such as bones, antlers, or hard plastic toys. Occasionally, a traumatic accident can injure teeth. It’s important to remember that most pets will not exhibit obvious signs of mouth discomfort — their instinctive behavior is to hide pain or illness.
When a tooth breaks, the deeper, porous layer (dentin) and oftentimes the nerve (pulp) become exposed, resulting in sensitivity and pain. When left untreated, infection of the jaw bone and swelling of the face can develop.
Root canal therapy serves as an excellent alternative to tooth extraction when a large, functionally important tooth is damaged. Your family veterinarian will work closely with Dr. Walker to determine if your pet is a good candidate.
Benefits of root canal therapy include:
- preserving a strategic tooth
- less post-operative pain than an extraction
- an immediate return to normal activity
Consultation at WestVet. Upon referral, your first stop is an in-depth meeting with Dr. Walker. During this consultation, she will carefully exam your pet’s teeth and bite, explain the procedure in detail, and answer your questions. Procedures can often be scheduled for that same day, or another convenient time.
The day of the root canal procedure. Your pet will arrive early at WestVet where he/she will be placed under general anesthesia with careful monitoring by a dedicated veterinary nurse. Dental X-rays will be performed at this time.
Successful treatment requires specialized instruments and materials to disinfect, shape and fill the root canal. The procedure is finished with a white composite filling (similar to cavities in people!). In some instances, metal crowns can also be placed. Your pet will return home that same evening and quickly return to their normal routine by the following day.
Follow up appointments. Dr. Walker will determine the follow-up schedule for your pet, which will often include rechecking the tooth with dental X-rays.
The good news? Root canal treatments are over 90 percent successful, meaning your pet’s oral health will soon be restored.
If you have any concerns about your pet’s dental health, whether or not you suspect a fractured tooth, it is always appropriate to consult with your family veterinarian right away. If your veterinarian is unavailable, WestVet is open and able to address your concerns 24 hours a day.