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A dental extraction is where a dog or cat’s tooth is removed from their mouth. Dental extractions involve removing both the crown (the part of the tooth we can see) and the roots (the part beneath the gum).
Where a tooth is damaged, or the gum is severely diseased and affecting a tooth, an extraction is often the best way to restore a pet’s mouth back to health and to live pain-free.
All teeth have roots attached to them; in dogs and cats, some of the larger teeth may have up to 3 roots. To extract a tooth properly, all roots must be removed.
During a pet dental extraction, your dog or cat will be under a general anaesthetic. A veterinary surgeon will first perform a physical assessment of the dog or cat’s teeth to identify what work needs to be done to restore their oral health.
To check the health of your dog or cat’s roots, the vet may also need to take an x-ray or to perform a CT scan. Large teeth, 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.
The veterinary surgeon will then use specialist instruments to break down the periodontal ligaments which attach the tooth to the bone of the mouth, and allow the tooth to then be ‘pulled out’. Breaking down the ligaments can be painstaking work but it is important that this is done thoroughly to ensure a clean extraction.
Dogs and cats are evolutionary hunters and have developed very strong teeth to catch prey, which means some of their roots are quite large. For some teeth, a surgical extraction is performed where gum and bone is cut to remove the tooth and then reconstructed afterwards.
Thankfully pet dental complications are rare. If any issues arise, these can include issues with remnants of teeth, dental cavities not healing or there is damage to the jaw bone.
Your dog or cat will normally be able to go back home on the same day as their dental procedure and be discharged in the same afternoon. You may see a small amount of blood tinged saliva from the gums where the extraction has been performed, but there should be no significant bleeding. Some pets may move their tongue more, or hold it in a different position as they get used to their mouth feeling different.
It is advisable to avoid giving your pet hard food and any chews while their cavities heal. You can soften dried kibble food by soaking it in water, particularly if there have been several extensive extractions.
Once your pet’s cavities have healed it is worth considering how further dental problems can be avoided. Dental Chews can be useful for dogs but are rarely appreciated by cats. It is important that the chew is the right size and texture for your pet as chews that are too small may not achieve the teeth cleaning action they are intended for. You should avoid giving dogs very hard chews like bones as these may actually crack teeth or damage the enamel as well as cause problems in their stomach or intestines.
The best way to maintain good oral health in your dog or cat is to brush their teeth. While not all pets are receptive, a surprising number do tolerate it well, particularly when specialist pet flavoured toothpaste is used, such as fish or poultry. Some owners find finger brushes designed for babies easier than hard toothbrushes but both options are fine to use. If you would like further advice on how to brush your pet’s teeth it is worth booking a consultation with a veterinary nurse who can show you how best to do it.
At Animal Trust we charge a fixed price for dentistry regardless of many extractions are required. Our fixed price for a pet dental procedure is £225 which includes the anaesthetic and pain relief medication to go home with.