Your Family Vet Recommends Extractions: What Should You Expect?
Oral health is a very important factor in a pet’s quality of life, and the more we learn the more it becomes obvious that oral health can affect overall health. You are making a wonderful commitment to your pet’s oral care, and we want you to know what to expect when you come to visit with us! Please be aware that each patient is different and the mouth is a difficult place to predict; however, we will do our best to derive as close of a treatment plan as possible during our initial visit.
Why would my pet need extractions?
Extractions are necessary in cases of severe periodontal disease, unsalvageable tooth fracture, and tooth resorption. Although we prefer to save teeth whenever possible, it is much 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.
Why can’t my veterinarian perform the extractions?
It is important to know that there is no such thing as a “just pulling it” procedure when it comes to a dog or cat’s tooth. Even more so than our own teeth, our pet’s teeth are designed to stay in the mouth under extreme forces (think of a lioness taking down a zebra!). It can be very 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!” Often,
extraction involves major oral surgery and specialized equipment. Complications such as bleeding, jaw fractures and creation of a hole from the mouth to the nose are real possibilities. Your veterinarian has the responsibility of knowing about diabetes, vaccines, spays, allergies, behavior and the list goes on and on.
What do extractions involve?
Depending on the tooth and the disease process, the process to extract a tooth can be variable. Prior to any extraction, a nerve block that lasts between six to eight hours is provided to help minimize oral pain and discomfort. With surgical extractions, we often make incisions in the adjacent gum tissue to create a flap and provide access to the tooth. We often need to remove the bone that overlies each root, section the tooth into individual roots if necessary, and extract each root separately. The alveolus (socket) is flushed to remove any debris and the extraction site is closed with absorbable sutures. In some cases, we can extract a tooth without the need for incisions and bone removal. In these cases, we carefully elevate each root individually and often, close the extraction site with absorbable sutures.
How will my pet do without their teeth?
Most pet owners are concerned that their pet will not be able to eat after a tooth (or teeth) has been extracted. Chances are the pets were not using those painful teeth anyway! In fact, despite a potentially uncomfortable surgery, they will continue to eat even the night of the procedure. 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. Aside from temporary oral discomfort and minor bleeding, most procedures go without complications and these patients feel great! I even have one client who is sincerely upset with me as we transformed her quiet, aging, 14 year old Schnauzer into a playful and rambunctious pup!
Learn more about this disease by contacting our Dentistry service at your nearest BluePearl veterinary hospital. Here are our hospital locations.
© BluePearl Veterinary Partners 2012
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