In the bottom of the 7th inning, Dodger the dugout dog caught a foul ball in the mouth. A few weeks later, the team manager brought him in because the swelling in his jaw hadn’t gone away. We took some x-rays and discovered that Dodger cracked a tooth and developed endodontic disease.
The endodontic system generally refers to the hollow part or canal inside the tooth, which is filled with tissue, nerves, veins, and blood called the “pulp”. Pulp keeps the tooth alive, allowing it to grow, mature and feel. Endodontic disease occurs when this pulp becomes inflamed, damaged or infected, most commonly from the tooth breaking or other trauma to the tooth.
The first step our practice takes is a physical examination of the mouth and tooth, followed by an anesthesia and digital dental radiographs. Radiographs will tell us the condition of the tooth; if it is broken or damaged and how severely. Although, the first line of treatment includes oral antibiotics, antibiotics alone will not clear up the problem permanently.
In the past, a damaged tooth would commonly be extracted. However, when possible, we like to save the tooth and instead perform root canal therapy. We especially want to save canine teeth in dogs and cats and the large 4th premolars of dogs.
Root canal therapy and dental radiographs, like all dental procedures, requires your pet to undergo general anesthesia. For this reason, we perform a full physical exam along with blood work to ensure that your pet is fit enough to handle general anesthesia and able to properly metabolize the medications.
Next we administer a sedative and pain medication, either by injection or intravenously to your pet. We insert an IV catheter into a peripheral vein which we then use to induce general anesthesia for your pet. We then induce anesthesia by injecting propofol, a short acting anesthetic, and place an endotracheal tube into their airway. The gas anesthesia and oxygen are then delivered through this tube to maintain anesthesia. Gas anesthesia is always used to maintain anesthesia after induction with intravenous medicine. For gas anesthesia, we offer sevoflurane. Sevoflurane allows us to adjust levels of anesthesia rapidly. Your pets blood pressure will also improve more rapidly with Sevoflurane than with other gas anesthesias and we prefer its superior safety margins.
We closely monitor your pet during the entire process keeping an eye on oxygen saturation and carbon dioxide levels in the blood along with their blood pressure, heart rate and temperature.
During root canal therapy, we first remove all of the dead and diseased pulp. We then fill the empty space with a safe and inert material and seal the tooth with a restoration or crown. After the procedure, we take another X-ray to be sure that the entire canal is filled properly.