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Twentynine Palms

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

Twentynine Palms, California
23rd Dental sees first K-9 patient for root canal

By Lance Cpl. Monica C. Erickson | | October 5, 2007

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The 23rd Dental Company, 1st Force Service Support Group, aboard the Combat Center had an unusual patient for a root canal and cleaning Oct. 5.

Rex, a five-year-old German Shepard, chipped his tooth and needed dental work done to fix the damage.

“He was chewing on rocks during our deployment to Iraq,” said Sgt. Brian Douglass, with the Provost Marshals Office, K-9 handler, explaining he would let Rex outside in the middle of the night to stretch his legs, and Rex would come back chewing on an assortment of rocks.

Cmdr. Patrick Munley, the clinic endodontics, performed the root canal and cavity fillings on Rex.

“This is our first K-9 patient at the dental clinic,” said Munley. “The procedure won’t be that different, but the teeth will be a lot longer.”

According to Munley, the dental clinic believes they will be seeing more K-9 units throughout the year.

“It’s an exciting challenge,” said Munley. “Not too many people get a chance to do something like this.”

If Rex had gone through the normal veterinarian, he may have had the whole tooth removed.

“We don’t know what the dog’s job is,” said Munley. “He may need that tooth for

work, or for whatever it is he does.”

Rex arrived slightly sedated while veterinarians and Munley hooked him up to a machine to monitor his heart rate and blood pressure.

Rex was then fully put unconscious while Munley began to radiograph the damaged canine tooth before performing the procedure.

After drilling into the tooth, Munley had to try many different sized files to fit into Rex’s long tooth.

The root canal consisted of removing inflamed and damaged tissue from inside the tooth and cleaning, filling and sealing the remaining space.

To complete the root canal, fill two cavities and clean Rex’s teeth took approximately one hour.

“Everything went well, there were absolutely no problems,” said Douglass. “After the root canal, they filled two cavities and cleaned his teeth.”

Douglass was thoroughly impressed with the work the Dental Clinic performed on Rex.

“He’s doing great, he’s already back at work.” Douglass said Tuesday.

Rex was given the privilege to receive dental work due to the fact he is considered a Marine working for PMO.


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