What is Root Canal?
Anyone who has had a sore tooth can understand the pain and sympathize, yet your dog may not show any visible signs of being in pain. This is a survival response from the past when in the wild; animals would avoid having an injury obvious to predators. Canines have a natural tendency to be stoic when it comes to pain. By careful observation of your companion you will notice changes in how he eats, and in addition, he may appear less active. The gum around the tooth may be inflamed or there may be leaking from the tooth. Treatment from a qualified veterinary dentist is recommended.
Root canal is a treatment method used on the canine teeth or first molars as a treatment for disease or fracture.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Root Canal in Dogs
- Your dog may change the way he eats, for example, he may tilt his head trying to eat on a certain side to avoid pain
- While checking your dog’s teeth, you may find a chip off the tooth which signals time for a check up
- He may swallow or gulp his food whole to avoid chewing as he normally does
- Your dog may be less active
- He may paw at his jaw if the discomfort is extreme
- You may notice discoloration of an individual tooth
- There may be inflammation around the gums
Endodontic disease refers to the infection or damage to the soft tissue inside the tooth in the root canal which is often called the nerve, but which veterinary dentists refer to as the soft pulp. There are two main types of categorising this disease, depending on severity:
- Reversible - Caused through minor injury such as damage caused to the tooth while chewing on something hard, with the tooth recovering
- Irreversible - The result of bacterial infection; because of the swelling of the tissue and the inflammation present, the blood is restricted from entering the root canal and the tooth slowly dies
Causes of Root Canal in Dogs
- External accidents are mainly through vehicle impact with the main force hitting the face
- Canines such as police dogs can get hit in the face by a hard object while they are on duty
- Teeth can fracture or have small bits broken off due to chewing on hard objects such as hard toys, fence posts or something similar
- Falls onto hard surfaces can result in a hit to the teeth causing damage which is then open to infection
- Bacterial infection from your dog’s saliva can seep into the soft pulp in the root canal from small cracks or breaks; once it is inside the root canal it is extremely hard to treat
- While this condition can affect any dog, there are a few breeds that are more susceptible to teeth problems
- Short headed snub nose breeds may suffer because of their more prominent teeth
- Lack of teeth care or the ability to chew on teeth cleaning objects can lead to a build-up of food around the tooth base and result in decay
Diagnosis of Root Canal in Dogs
The only effective way to assess any damage is to take your dog to a fully qualified, professional veterinary dentist. The dentist will gently check around the canine teeth for any obvious signs of damage and will be able to observe your pet’s reaction to the inspection of a certain tooth.
The main way to determine the condition of the tooth is for your dog to have a dental x-ray. Without it, the dentist is unable to see how deeply your dog’s tooth has been affected. The x-ray will allow the veterinarian dentist to see the impact of the injury to the teeth and she will be able to see into the root canal and assess the damage.
Treatment of dental fractures will be determined based on the type and severity of the fracture, as well as the time elapsed between the fracture and the veterinary visit. As for X-rays, anesthesia will be required for these procedures due to the active nature of animals.
Treatment of Root Canal in Dogs
Once the X-rays have been done, the type of treatment necessary will be clear to the veterinary caregiver. She will be able to see the condition of the bone structure and the root canal, and the extent of the damage. There are two choices for treatment, each with its own set of considerations.
Root canal therapy
In simple terms this involves drilling into the tooth to enable the removal of the diseased soft tissue, followed by cleaning and antiseptic flushing of the canal before filling it with a special antibacterial material which is then covered by a tooth coloured restoration to seal the tooth against any further infection.
Removing the tooth may seem an easy option. However, in regards to the large canine and chewing teeth in your dog’s mouth, there are very large roots. Because of this, extraction becomes a major surgery and may cause trauma for your pet. Removing these large teeth is challenging and leaves a large wound.
Most veterinarians prefer to treat with a root canal as the success rate is excellent and will enable your dog to recover fully without any further drama.
Recovery of Root Canal in Dogs
Following a root canal treatment, your dog is usually able to go home the same day. For the first few hours you will need to watch him carefully as he will have been under anesthetic to have the treatment. He will feel a bit unsteady afterward.
It is advisable to make an appointment to go back after the first week for a check-up followed by another visit 3-6 months later. In the meantime, the veterinarian may suggest a soft food diet for your dog for the first several days as the gums around the tooth may be tender.
If your dog did have an extraction, he may need to stay in the hospital overnight so the veterinary care giver can monitor his response to the operation and administer painkillers if needed. This will depend on the size of the extraction and whether more than one tooth was removed.
Saving the tooth via a root-canal is very positive; documentation shows there is an 86% chance of saving the tooth, with recovery time for your pet of only a matter of days.
Root Canal Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
How many root canals can be done on a dog during surgery? I have a 100 lb yellow lab and I think he will need 2 canines fixed. Will the vet be able to do in one visit ?
Generally a Veterinarian will try to complete both teeth in the same surgery to reduce anaesthesia cycles of a patient etc… But each case is different, a Veterinarian will always try to save canine teeth as the extraction is extremely painful post surgery and is comparable to having wisdom teeth removed. A x-ray should be performed to check overall suitability of the teeth below the gum line; without an examination and an x-ray I cannot give you more information. Your Veterinarian will evaluate the teeth and will make a recommendation based on their findings. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Add a comment to Taylor's experience
Was this experience helpful?