Companion Animal

What to Expect if Your Dog or Cat Needs a Dental Extraction

Oct 27 • 2 minute read

Dental extractions are a common veterinary surgical procedure. Whenever possible, vets will try to save an animal’s functional tooth, but there are times when a tooth is so damaged that removing it is the only way to maintain your pet’s optimal oral health and stop pain. Here is an overview of what you can expect if your vet recommends this procedure for your dog or cat.

Why Would Your Pet Need a Dental Extraction?

There are numerous reasons that may necessitate tooth extraction for your pet, including:

  • Periodontal Disease: Complications with gum disease or periodontal disease are the primary reasons vets need to pull a dog or cat’s tooth. Left untreated, the infection spreads deeper into the tooth socket, damaging bone and gum tissue. The tooth will eventually become loose and fall out.
  • Fractured Tooth: A broken tooth could cause pain and discomfort because of exposed nerves. While root canals can solve this problem, extraction will be considered if the fractured tooth is infected, unhealthy, and unrepairable.
  • Tooth Resorption: This is common in cats and is caused by bone-destroying cells called odontoclasts. Resorption that spreads or starts from the crown causes painful cavities. Extraction may be necessary to prevent the spread of the cells and provide relief.

Other reasons why your dog or cat might need a tooth pulled include tooth decay, mobility, abscesses, oral tumors, oral trauma, orthodontic abnormalities, retained roots, cysts, and impacted teeth.

How a Veterinary Dental Extraction is Performed

Before recommending a dental extraction, your vet will conduct a detailed oral examination with a radiographic assessment. To begin with, your veterinary surgeon will conduct pre-anesthetic bloodwork and physical assessments to determine whether or not your pet qualifies for anesthesia and to customize an anesthetic plan for your pet.

The vet will conduct an oral exam and take x-rays to check for abnormalities below the teeth, such as resorption, cysts, root abscesses, fractures, and impacted teeth. Once the dental radiographs and visual analysis are complete, the veterinarian will recommend the best course of action.

During the procedure, your dog or cat will be under anesthesia. The vet will make incisions to access and carefully remove the affected tooth or teeth. They flush the area to get rid of any debris and the extraction site is closed using absorbable sutures. After the procedure, your vet may apply a sealant to the gap and prescribe a pain reliever and antibiotic.

Recovery After Pet Tooth Extraction

For most pets, recovery is relatively quick and easy to handle. Your cat or dog will normally be able to return home on the same day as the procedure. Your vet will advise you to feed your dog or cat soft food, make sure their water intake is adequate, restrict their activity, and limit access to chew toys. It can take 48 to 72 hours for your pet to return to their normal activity level and appetite.

Don’t Neglect Pet Dental Care

Dental care should be considered a core part of your pet’s health. Diligent and consistent care can help prevent the need for a dental extraction, but it’s also important to know when an extraction might be necessary and what to expect with the procedure. If you’re ever concerned about your pet’s oral health, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.

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