The Feline Canine Emergency

I finished for the day and was almost home, when I got the call for a dental emergency. I felt so important. A dental emergency, and they needed ME! I felt like a real doctor… paging Dr Zvirblis! The patient was fully anaesthetised and unable to be moved, so I had to bring the dental office to them.

With time against me, I raced back to the dental surgery to scurry together a make-shift portable root canal kit. My trusty dental nurse and I were packed and ready, so off to the veterinary clinic we went. We were greeted by the Veterinarian, who showed us to our patient and explained the dental history. In an unfortunate chain of events, our patient’s canine tooth had been knocked resulting in a traumatic pulp exposure. The Vet explained that to take out the tooth would result in quite a difficult recovery for the cat, hoping that RCT could save our patient from the discomfort.

Access was my first mission. I prepped with some google images pictures of cat tooth anatomy – looked simple enough! Using a portable endo hand piece and bur,  I drilled into the exposed pulp and widened my access. Next was time for my initial working length. I inserted a 10k file until I felt some resistance and then needed to sort out how to take a working length radiograph without dental radiographic films. Thinking back to my days as a Radiographer, I opted for a lateral view of the maxilla which would give me the least amount of distortion of the file length. Totally lucking out, the length was spot on!

Time for instrumentation and irrigation so of course I needed to fit some rubber dam. None of my clamps seemed to fit, so I was reliant on the grip of the rubber dam hole alone. Flushing with 1%NaOCl, I worked the canal up to size 20 with a k file at the apex, dried with paper points and packed it with CaOH paste. Closing was a bit of challenge. Being so small, I would have liked to have used flowable followed by regular composite – but we had no curing light! I packed Fuji IX  into the canal and smoothed off the edge with a flat plastic, done.

I had a great time treating my first non-human patient, and have found myself googling tooth anatomy of different animal for interest’s sake (because I’m cool like that ?). My dental friends have been really interested in hearing about it, and I hope I have the chance to branch out further into the animal kingdom into the future.

David is a recent graduate dentist working in private practice in regional NSW, Australia. Read more at

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