Endodontic therapy deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the pulp of a pet’s tooth. The most common veterinary dental treatment is root canal therapy for non-vital teeth. Other procedures offered include apexification used to preserve young, non-vital teeth, surgical root canal therapy, and vital pulpotomy/direct pulp capping, used to treat very recently fractured teeth.
Root canal therapy can be done on cats and dogs just as in humans. Root canal therapy is performed when a pet’s tooth has died. There are several reasons why a cat or dog’s tooth may die, but the most common cause is a fracture of the pet’s tooth. If the crown of the tooth fractures and the pulp tissue is exposed, the tooth dies. The infected root canal contents then “leak” infection into the bone around the tips of the root. This can lead to an infection forming in the bone.
As a result, there are only two options available to treat the pet’s condition. The first is to extract the tooth, which solves the problem, but the pet is left with a missing tooth. Depending on which tooth is extracted, it can be significant for the pet, therefore the second option is root canal therapy (which saves the pet’s tooth.) With a root canal procedure the dead and infected root canal contents are removed and the root canal is refilled with a material that will seal off the inside. This prevents the bone infection around the tips of the roots. Root canal therapy in cats and dogs is has a success rate greater than 90 percent.