There are many reasons why a tooth may require extraction. Some of these reasons include fracture of the crown or root, receding gums, severe periodontal disease resulting in loss of bone supporting the tooth, infection of the tooth root or bone surrounding the tooth. Sometimes overcrowding of teeth results in more “strategic” teeth being put at risk for developing one of the above conditions. Our goal is to save teeth if possible. However, in certain cases teeth that have lost bone attachment from chronic disease are unlikely to heal and need to be removed. For teeth with more than 50% of supporting bone loss, endodontic disease, crowding or deep cavities, extraction is indicated. In order to extract a tooth, oral surgery is involved.
The roots of dog and cat teeth are long (about 70% of the tooth is under the gumline). In teeth with more than one root the roots often bow out from each other. What this means is that extracting a tooth involves much more than just pulling!
When your pet is under anesthesia, each tooth is scaled of the tartar and polished with prophy paste on every visible surface. Then each tooth is individually evaluated to see if it can be saved or must be extracted. Before any extractions, key information about the location and shape of the roots of the teeth is considered. Based on this information we can carefully plan our local pain blocks and extraction plan.
After the entire tooth root has been removed, the remaining gum, bone, and opening are evaluated. Sometimes dissolvable stitches are used to close any potential openings that could delay proper healing (such as opening between the nasal cavity). Though the stitches may remain for longer than 2 weeks, the soft tissues heal within 10-14 days. During this time when your pet is healing, it can be helpful to feed only wet food, or dry kibble soaked with water until it is a mushy consistency. It is also important to limit all chew toys and oral playing during this healing process.
We will prescribe pain medications for the first 5-7 days after extractions are performed. Antibiotics will also be prescribed to help prevent infection from any potential bacteria that can get into the bloodstream. It is extremely important to complete the course of antibiotics prescribed until gone.
(Reference: Sacramento Veterinary Dental Services found at: http://www.sacvds.com/forms/faq-oral-surgery-extractions.pdf)