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Cat Dental Surgery & Tooth Extractions

Protecting your cat's oral health is important, without the appropriate preventive dental care your cat may experience periodontal disease and tooth decay. Our Montecito vets discuss oral health and what happens if your cat requires dental surgery or tooth extractions. 

Preventive dental care for your cat is incredibly important as your cat's oral health can directly affect their overall health and wellbeing. You can help to protect their teeth and mouth by committing to regular at-home oral care such as teeth brushing and specially designed detail treats as well as routine dental exams and cleaning with your vet. If you do not properly care for your cat's teeth then they could potentially suffer from a wide range of oral disorders and diseases. Some of these diseases if left untreated could result in the need for dental surgery or tooth extractions. 

Tooth Extractions in Cats

If your vet has performed a thorough oral examination and determined that your cat will require dental surgery, they will first order diagnostic testing to ensure that it will be safe for your cat to receive the general anesthetic required for the surgery. These diagnostics may include blood tests and urinalysis and your vet may recommend antibiotics if there are signs of infection present.

Your veterinarian will then take dental X-rays in order to ensure there are no unseen issues in the teeth, below the gum line or within the jawbone. They will also perform a more thorough examination of your cat's teeth while they are under anesthesia. 

The technique that your veterinarian uses for the tooth extraction will vary depending on which tooth they are removing. 

Generally, for more complex extractions, your vet will open up a section of the gum in order to expose the required section of the jawbone. They will then grind away the jawbone in this area in order to expose the root of the tooth that is to be removed. The ligaments holding the tooth in place will then be broken down using a sharp dental elevator. At this point, the tooth will be loose and your vet will use extractors in order to twist and pull it out. 

Once this has been completed your vet will replace the section of gum and apply sutures to seal the wound.

Effectiveness of Tooth Extractions

Tooth extractions are a permanent procedure used to relieve consistent pain and discomfort as well as to protect your cat from the possible infection of a diseased tooth.

While there are possible alternatives to extraction they are not commonly used as they are considered advanced techniques and require regular maintenance afterward which not many pet owners would be capable of. These include procedures such as fillings, root canals and orthodontic therapy. 

Recovery After Extractions

Generally, it will take about 10 to 14 days for the gums to deal, and any sensible use of the gum flaps will help to increase your feline’s comfort throughout this time. Post-operative discomfort can be reduced with proper pain relief during the actual procedure, but for more extensive tooth removal procedures, it may be necessary to undergo pain relief for a few days after the procedure.

Recovery after a tooth extraction is typically 10 to 14 days. While the pain relief provided during the actual procedure is usually adequate, there may be instances where your cat will require post-operative pain relief for a few days. 

Providing your at with a soft food diet and plenty of liquids after the procedure can help with any possible pain as well as help with the healing process. 

It is recommended that your cat has a follow-up examination with your veterinarian approximately two weeks after the procedure. Your vet will ensure that the gums are healing properly as well as inspect for any signs of possible infection. They will also assess for any pain or discomfort along with monitoring for any complications that may have occurred. If there are complications present your vet will address them during this visit. Your cat will typically have one more checkup after this appointment before returning to regularly scheduled visits. 

Costs Associated With Extractions 

Having your veterinarian perform an extraction can be costly, especially if you do not have pet insurance or if it does not cover extractions. Your vet will be using valuable experience and expertise in order to provide your cat with the highest quality of care during the procedure. The costs associated with your cat's extraction will depend on many things such as your vet and the location of your clinic, the extraction cost itself, as well as the cost of any extra exams and diagnostics, along with general anesthetic and IV fluids. 

The cost can also increase if the situation requires a specialist to perform the extraction.

Speak with your vet about what costs to expect for your pet's diagnosis. 

Things to Consider

No surgery is without possible health risks. The roots in your cat's teeth are quite long and deep and there is a chance that a hole or tract could possibly develop between the nasal cavity and the mouth. In these cases, your vet may suggest surgery to correct this condition using a flap of gum to close the hole.

Hemorrhaging is another possible complication of surgery. Your vet will determine if your cat has any risk factors related to clotting issues prior to performing the procedure but there is still a risk of unforeseen events which may lead to this condition. Your vet will always take the appropriate precautions to try to ensure this should not happen.

Once the surgery has been successfully performed and your cat is fully healed their life will improve greatly as they will be able to live and eat without any of the pain they were previously experiencing.

Preventive Care

Preventive care is always the most effective form of oral health care as this will prevent the need for drastic care such as surgery. Some forms of preventive care are:

  • Tooth Brushing –Daily brushing will help to remove any food or debris which could form plaque or tartar on your cat's teeth. Be sure to use a toothpaste that is specially made for cats and not human toothpaste and your toothpaste would make your feline friend very sick. 
  • Dental Foods – There are a variety of cat foods available that can help to scrub away tartar as your cat eats. Your vet can recommend a food that would be suitable for your cat. 
  • Dental Treats and Chews – These treats and chews will scrub and polish your cat's teeth effectively while your cat is chewing on them. 
  • Food or Water Additives – Dental additives for your cat's water or food have been proven to help reduce the amount of buildup that could occur on your cat's teeth. 
It is recommended that you bring your cat in for a dental exam and cleaning at least once or twice a year where your vet will perform a full examination, cleaning, as well as assess for any potential diseases or conditions. Your vet will also make any recommendations for at-home and preventive care at this time. 

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

If you believe that your cat is in need of dental surgery or if you have any questions, contact your Montecito vet to schedule an appointment.

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