Tooth extractions (removal) are necessary in cases of severe periodontal (gum) disease, tooth fractures where the tooth cannot be repaired, and tooth resorption. Although it is preferable to save teeth whenever possible, it is better to have no tooth than a painful tooth. Our pets do great with missing teeth, and often, they do better when the painful tooth is gone.
Whenever your pet is showing signs of a health issue your first step is to contact your primary care veterinarian. If it is indicated that your pet may suffer from advanced dental disease, a broken tooth or another serious condition, a veterinary specialist is available at an ExpertVet certified or affiliated hospital.
Often, extraction involves major oral surgery (including anesthesia) and specialized equipment, as our pet’s teeth are designed to stay in the mouth under extreme forces (think of a lioness taking down a zebra). Therefore, it can be difficult to extract an animal’s tooth. Human dentists who have been asked to help in animal cases have said, “It’s like these teeth are in cement!” Complications such as bleeding, jaw fractures, and creation of a hole from the mouth to the nose are real possibilities.
The idea of tooth extraction can be quite concerning for pet owners. Laurie Miller, RVT, CVT, CVPM, a practice consultant with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), recommends asking a few questions in order to relieve some of the stress associated with the procedure:
Will my pet have an IV catheter and fluids during the procedure?
Is there someone dedicated to monitoring my pet while they are under anesthesia? Who is that person, and are they credentialed, or what training do they have with anesthesia?
What type of monitoring devices are used during my pet’s surgery?
While my pet recovers, what is the process for observing and monitoring her?
Most pet owners are concerned that their pet will not be able to eat after dental extraction(s); however, chances are the pets were not using those painful teeth anyway. In fact, many pets eat the evening after returning from the hospital. Again, the risks associated with extractions depend on the tooth involved. Unlike people, dogs and cats do not experience dry sockets and their recovery is quite quick. Although repairing damaged teeth is ideal, sometimes it is not medically or financially possible. Fortunately, most pets do well after dental extractions.