If your cat has a tooth that is damaged beyond repair, an extraction may be required. Here, our Everett vets share some info about what you can expect from your cat's tooth extraction surgery.
Tooth Extractions in Cats
A cat tooth extraction is when your cat's tooth is surgically removed by a veterinarian. Extractions can go as deep as the roots or might stop at removing the dental crown (the part of the tooth which is visible above the gums)
Why a Tooth May Require Extraction
When a tooth is damaged beyond repair, it is important to remove it to prevent infection and pain caused by the dead tooth. 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.
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. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent feline tooth resorption and the teeth experiencing resorption almost always need to be extracted.
The Tooth Extraction Process
When you bring your cat in for an extraction they will be given general anesthesia. Cat veterinary dentists do this to ensure the safety and comfort of your cat. Before the procedure takes place, your vet will likely recommend the appropriate diagnostic tests to ensure they are healthy enough to undergo anesthesia. These tests may include bloodwork, X-rays, or an EKG.
During the surgery, your cat will be continuously monitored by a veterinary technician who will administer pain medication and ensure your cat's vitals remain stable.
Depending on the teeth that are being removed, including their size and location, there is a variety of techniques that your vet may use for the extraction.
Your Cat's Recovery
After a tooth extraction surgery, it is normal for your cat to feel some sensitivity for anywhere from 1 - 2 weeks. For more complex procedures, pain relief medication may be prescribed by your vet for a few days following the surgery.
Cats typically don't "chew" their food the same way humans do. 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.
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. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.