Army, Air Force join forces to save K9 tooth
By 2nd Lt. Natasha Mosquera, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 10, 2018
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --
On April 12, 2018, members of the 436th Airlift Wing Dental Operations Flight gained a new patient that required them to put some of their unique capabilities to the test, here.
A root canal was performed on Military Working Dog Karlo, an 80-pound Belgian Malinois assigned to the 436th Security Forces Squadron, because of an incident that occurred during a training demonstration one day prior.
The incident left him with a broken tooth and an exposed pulp cavity.
Lt. Col. Aaron Krance, the Dental Operations flight commander, said exposure to bacteria in the outside environment would have caused the pulp, which contains blood vessels and nerves, to die.
“There’s only two things that you can do with a dead pulp, and that’s either do a root canal therapy or extract the tooth,” Krance said.
He said the reason root canal therapy is performed on the canine teeth of dogs is because they are so large.
“It’s almost shaped like a banana. It sticks up so far, but then it curves down and goes back along the jawbone,” Krance said. “It’s really well anchored in there, so to try and just extract the tooth can be very traumatic for the dog, and you may have to remove a lot of bone, so it’s not a great option.”
A much bigger tooth calls for much larger instrumentation.
Prior to the procedure, X-rays were taken, and it was determined that a 67 millimeter file would be used on Karlo versus a 25 millimeter human-sized one.
Krance and his dental team performed the root canal with the help of Army Capt. Kristen Borsella, Dover Branch Veterinary Services chief, and her team, who sedated Karlo and helped maintain him throughout the procedure.
Krance explained that Karlo was put under similar to how a human would be under for general anesthesia so that he would have unlimited access to safely conduct the root canal.
Staff Sgt. David Bischoff, 436th SFS MWD handler and Karlo’s former handler, was also present to help keep Karlo at ease.
“During the procedure I was by Karlo’s side to ensure he didn’t wake up during the operation and that he didn’t stress out and cause harm to himself or others,” Bischoff said.
Despite having to clean and shape the entire pulp chamber by hand, Krance said the two-hour long session went smoothly.
Instead of a crown, a silver filling was put on Karlo’s tooth that will act as a long-term effective seal, and a definitive restoration for his tooth.
Krance said the procedure was extremely rewarding because it’s something outside the normal scope of care that his team does in day-to-day dentistry.
“It was a great team effort, it really was. The vets are awesome,” he said. “It’s nice to work joint with the Army and take care of the working dogs.”
Should another MWD require a root canal in the future, Krance said he is excited to expose the procedure to other dentists within the flight.
In the meantime, Karlo is back to full service and can continue to do his job with the same bite force as before.