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Dental Surgery: Tooth Extractions for Cats

When a cat's teeth aren't cared for properly, it can lead to several oral health issues that can have serious complications. If severe cases, they may need to have a tooth removed. Today, our Westminster vets discuss the need for cat tooth extractions and what you can expect while your kitty recovers form dental surgery.

Cat Tooth Extractions

when a cat has dental surgery for a tooth extraction, the veterinarian will surgically remove a tooth to relieve pain and prevent further dental problems. Extractions can go all the way down to the roots, or they can stop at the dental crown (the part of the tooth that is visible above the gums).

Why might your vet recommend dental surgery?

If your cat has a dead, decayed, or infected tooth, tooth extraction may be used to manage pain and protect the surrounding teeth. In most situations, this decay is caused by periodontal (gum) disease.

Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque on your cat's teeth that eventually hardens into a substance called calculus or tartar. When not removed, the hardened tartar will cause pockets of infection between the gum line and the teeth, leading to gum erosion and tooth decay. You can help prevent gum disease with at-home dental care and regularly scheduled professional dental appointments with our vets (who are kind of like a cat dentist). 

Cats are also susceptible to a condition called feline tooth resorption. Feline tooth resorption is when painful erosions develop on a cat's tooth or teeth and begin breaking down the structures that form the tooth. The prevention of tooth resorption is not possible and your vet will want to remove the tooth as soon as possible.

What happens during your cat's dental surgery?

Your cat will have up to three roots holding each tooth in place. All roots will need to be removed to ensure complete extraction.

During your cat's dental surgery, they will be under the effects of anesthesia. Our veterinarians practice stringent surgical protocols when operating on our patients.

To check the health of your cat’s roots, the vet may take an X-ray or a CT scan. Large teeth, that is those with multiple roots, are split using a high-speed dental drill so that each fragment of the tooth has only one root attached to it. Smaller teeth that have one root can be completely removed without this extra step.

What to Expect After Cat Tooth Extractions

at first, your cat may not be eating or sleeping after dental surgery. This is because they are likely to have some discomfort which can make it hard to chew and lay their head down to sleep. You should notice this gradually improves over the first few days after the procedure.

Complications After Dental Surgery

Veterinary tooth extraction complications are uncommon. Complications that do occur usually fall into one of a few categories: the remnants of removed teeth, unhealed dental cavities, and jaw bone damage are all potential areas of complication that can arise during a cat tooth extraction.

Cat Tooth Extraction Recovery

Cats may show signs of sensitivity for around two weeks post-surgery. For more complex procedures, pain relief medication may be prescribed by your vet for a few days following the surgery.

Unlike humans, cats don't 'chew' their food. Their teeth are mainly for ripping apart pieces of meat and when it comes to kibble it's not unusual for them to swallow whole pieces. So while you don't need to worry about your cat eating in the long run, you should still soften their kibble with warm water or switch to canned, wet food for a few days after surgery as their mouth will be sore.

Complications are rare after veterinary dental surgery, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't monitor your kitty's mouth. Keep an eye out for any signs of excess bleeding, swelling, or infection. Infection may be characterized by redness, pus, or a bad odor.

If your cat is not sleeping or eating after dental surgery then it may be worth mentioning it to your vet.

Your vet will likely want to schedule a follow-up appointment with you to ensure everything is healing as it should. Talk to your vet about any other special care requirements your cat may need.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

Are you concerned that your cat may be experiencing a dental issue? Contact our Westminster vets today to schedule a dental examination.

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Choice Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients. Our experienced veterinary specialists are passionate about improving the health of Westminster animals with complex healthcare needs. Contact us today.

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