How Can Root Canal Therapy Benefit Pets?

April 25, 2019

How Can Root Canal Therapy Benefit Pets?

In the not-too-distant past, root canal therapy was unheard of in veterinary medicine. When pets had diseased teeth, those teeth would be extracted. Fortunately, Virginia Veterinary Centers has the expertise of Dr. Babbitt, one of the only board-certified veterinary dentists in the area, who is skilled in performing root canal therapy to save your pet’s injured teeth.

How can root canals benefit pets?

Pets suffering from fractured, discolored, dead, or infected teeth are living in constant pain. While extracting the diseased teeth will remove the source of pain, a root canal will also address the pain and can provide significant benefits to your pet, including:

  • Preservation of the tooth and its function
  • Avoidance of surgical pain, trauma, and possible complications from an extraction
  • Decreased postoperative pain
  • Minimal recovery time following the procedure

Root canal therapy is a popular option for teeth that are difficult to surgically extract. Because of their size and the length of their roots, the canine teeth and the large chewing teeth can be a challenge to extract—especially in cats and small dogs—sometimes resulting in jaw fracture.

How are root canals performed in pets?

Inside each tooth lies a hollow cavity containing a root canal system. This system is composed of the nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues that support the tooth. When a tooth is damaged or decayed, this tissue, or pulp, is exposed, creating a source of pain for your pet. Exposed pulp also attracts bacteria, leading to difficult-to-treat infections. To remove this source of pain and infection, pet owners are usually faced with two options: extraction or root canal therapy. Root canals in pets are similar to those performed in people:

  • We drill small holes into the diseased tooth. While your pet is under general anesthesia, we will drill one or two small holes into the affected tooth to provide access to the root canal system.
  • We remove the pulp material from within the tooth. Using a series of files, we clean out both the diseased and healthy portions of the tissue inside the tooth.
  • We clean and disinfect the inside of the tooth. We sterilize the inside of the tooth to kill any bacteria and prevent future infection.
  • We fill the inside of the tooth. Once the tooth is void of nerves, blood vessels, and bacteria, we fill the hollow with a special cement. This helps support the tooth and block bacterial growth. Depending on the tooth structure, we will use a simple filling in the tooth or we will add a crown to prevent future fractures.

What other dentistry services are offered at VVC Richmond?

Dr. Babbitt brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to VVC Richmond as one of the only board-certified veterinary dentists and oral surgeons in the region. Although he typically receives referred cases for geriatric pets and those at higher anesthetic risks, he is also skilled in a number of veterinary dentistry procedures most general practice veterinary clinics do not offer. In addition to root canal therapy, Dr. Babbitt routinely handles:

  • Orthodontics correcting bite misalignments
  • Fractured teeth, treating with vital pulp capping or root canal therapy
  • Jaw fracture repairs
  • Oral defects, such as cleft palates and oronasal fistulas
  • TMJ abnormalities
  • Periodontics
  • Neoplastic concerns
  • Restorations, such as metal crowns

Is your pet suffering from tooth troubles? Give our Richmond location a call to set up an appointment with Dr. Babbitt.