Date of Award

Spring 1990

Document Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Howard, Paul

Second Advisor

Walia, Harmeet

Third Advisor

Nencka, Daniel


Veterinary and dental clinicians have discovered apical deltas in the canine teeth of dogs when treating them for endodontic disease. These deltas consist of a variable number of inaccessible microscopic canals at the apex of the tooth which eventually coalesce to a central canal. The difficulty in adequate debridement, and the presence of a greater area to harbor debris and bacteria, may indicate a greater endodontic failure rate among those teeth with apical deltas, when compared to teeth with a single foramen. This study was conducted to determine the incidence and morphology of the apical delta in the canine tooth of the dog and to clinically predict endodontic treatment and maximize the chance for successful endodontic therapy. Eighty-two teeth were extracted from necropsy specimens of 38 dogs. The teeth were cleared, dyed, and viewed under a stereo photomicroscope. The morphology of each delta present was categorized by the number of canal ramifications and the vertical extent of the delta. Nearly 70% of the teeth examined exhibited an apical delta. There was a significantly greater incidence of mandibular deltas than maxillary deltas. A classification system was developed to standardize delta nomenclature and treatment protocols. The delta was described according to the number of ramifications and the vertical extent of the ramifications from the tooth's anatomic apex. Based on results of this study, I concurrently recommend that a provisional file radiograph be taken to establish the presence and vertical extent of a delta. Teeth with deltas confined to the apical 1mm of the root can be handled nonsurgically, whereas teeth with a delta extending a distance greater than 1mm from the root apex should be treated by an apicoectomy procedure. Treatment decisions are based upon the extent of the delta and the likelihood of successfully removing tissues from these canal ramifications.



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