Endodontics is the branch of dentistry that involves treatment inside of the tooth. Common examples would be root canal therapy and vital pulp therapy.
Root canal therapy is typically performed on strategic teeth that serve a more significant function, like canine teeth, upper 4th premolars and lower 1st molars in the dog and canine teeth in cats. Animals can survive without teeth; however, it is preferred to keep them when possible. Root canal therapy is less invasive than surgical extraction, but does have a higher cost with some follow up imaging 6 months after the treatment and at future maintenance cleanings. Teeth after root canal therapy are no longer alive but retain their function.
Vital pulp therapy is performed on teeth that have pulp exposure of a known cause and duration, like a traumatic event. The goal of treatment is to keep the tooth alive. We have 48 hours to perform treatment when dogs are greater than 18 months of age and up to 2 weeks when they are younger than 18 months. Vital pulp therapy requires removal of some of the bleeding pulp, followed by the application of a medication on the pulp, an intermediate restorative and a final composite restoration (filling) of the tooth.
Vital pulp therapy is common after crown reduction in cases of base narrow mandibular canine teeth when there is trauma to the roof of the mouth.