Cat tooth removal (or extraction) is often performed in order to manage oral pain as a result of damaged teeth. This procedure requires complete general anesthetic and as well as careful pain management after the procedure. Moreover, due to the delicate way that cat’s teeth are attached and the invasive methods that are required to remove them, tooth removal in felines is considered a veterinary surgery.
Generally, the majority of dental extractions are only performed due to an advantaged stage of dental disease. Advanced dental disease can be prevented with tooth brushing on a regular basis—yes, that’s right, you can brush your cat’s teeth, and should on a regular basis. Brushing your cat’s teeth regularly is extremely beneficial for their dental health, just as it is for your own oral health.
As soon as it has been identified that your cat has developed dental disease, your cat will be examined for fitness for receiving a general anesthetic. This may include things like screening blood tests, IV fluids for kidney protection (especially for older cats), and antibiotics pre-op if gingivitis or a dental abscess if present, etc.
Once the cat has received anesthesia, dental X-rays are taken in order to check for any potential complications like lesions below the gums or jawbone disease. The veterinarian will systematically probe the cat’s teeth and gingival pockets in order to look for issues that are not obvious in the cat when he or she is conscious.
Depending on the teeth that are being removed, there are varying techniques that are utilized. For tooth removals that are more complex, it will involve the creation of a flap of gum over the root of the tooth and lifting the flap up for the jawbone to be exposed. The bone that is overlying the root is then grinded away with a high-speed bur. For teeth with multiple roots, the tooth will be sectioned off with a high-speed cutting bit before a sharp dental elevator is inserted between the socket and root, which will work to break down the ligaments that are holding the tooth in its place. Once the tooth has been knocked loose, the veterinarian will utilize extractors twist and pull the cat’s tooth out.
The area that the flap of gum was created will be replaced as well as sutured so that the socket is sealed off.
Tooth removal in cats is not temporary; it is a permanent, non-reversible procedure. It is a procedure that is particularly effective at removing constant pain and discomfort that is being caused from a diseased tooth.
There are alternative treatments to tooth removal, and these include fillings, root canal therapy, and orthodontic treatment. Generally, these treatments are not commonly used in first opinion practice; instead, they are primarily the domain of dental specialists in the veterinarian world. In the case of orthodontic therapy, the selection process is very careful because it is considered an advanced technique and the owner must be fully willing and able to commit to tooth brushing on a daily basis.
Generally, it will take about 10 to 14 days for the gums to deal, and any sensible use of the gum flaps will help to increase your feline’s comfort throughout this time. Post-operative discomfort can be reduced with proper pain relief during the actual procedure, but for more extensive tooth removal procedures, it may be necessary to undergo pain relief for a few days after the procedure.
Many cats find it easier after the tooth removal procedure to eat soft food and liquid recovery diets, though some cats are find with eating biscuits and swallowing them whole—so don’t assume that discount kibble can’t be fed to your cat after the procedure.
Essentially, your cat should go back to the veterinarian for a checkup roughly two to three days after the tooth removal procedure. It is at this stage that the cat will be checked to ensure that his or her gums are healing, there is no present infection, and that he or she is comfortable and in no pain. If there any complications have arisen since the procedure, the appropriate measures can be taken. Your cat will have another checkup again in about a week, and if all is well, then your cat will sent on his or her way.
It takes a lot of experience and time to perform dental surgery on cats. Therefore, in a way, the cost of cat tooth removal reflects the amount of time necessary to perform the procedure, as a single cat tooth can take anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes to successfully remove. Then, when you add in the costs of general anesthetic and intravenous fluids, you can see the costs starting to climb.
While basic descaling of the teeth under general anesthesia costs $120+, this amount can rise significantly if extractions are necessary. It isn’t uncommon for multiple or complex extractions to cost between $600 and $750, including dental X-rays.
When your cat has to be referred to a veterinary dental specialist, a specialist consultation fee is incurred—generally around $100 to $225, with a screening test and a descaling costing you another $630 approximately. You can reach about four figures if your cat needs complex orthodontics.
As with any type of surgery, there are potential risks associated with dental extractions. Cat teeth have very long and deep roots, and there is a chance that a fistula (a tract or hole) can develop between the nasal cavity and the mouth. If this happens, corrective surgery could be required down the road in order to move a flap of the gum in order to fill the tract/hole.
Blood fills your cat’s teeth sockets, so a hemorrhage is yet another potential complications with tooth removal procedures. Part of the pre-op assessment is to determine if there are risk factors of clotting issues. In very rare instances, when the sockets bleed with the feline awake, another anesthetic may be necessary in order to keep the hemorrhage under control.
The good news is that when the mouth is healed that the majority of cats do relatively well and are able to eat better than with a diseased tooth.
To help prevent the need for tooth extractions in cats, good dental hygiene is very important. There are a number of strategies to help achieve this, and most of them need to be used together.
In addition to the aforementioned, it is strongly recommended that your cat visits the veterinarian every six months for a dental checkup. This helps to ensure that problems are detected on an early basis, and if any issues are detected, they can be treated early on, which reduces the risk of any deterioration that could lead to extractions.
Plus, good oral hygiene not only reduces unnecessary discomfort and pain, but it also promotes fresh breath, which is definitely a good thing for cat owners! It is important to keep in mind that tooth removal will solve the problem with a particular diseased tooth, but measures should still be taken to improve overall dental health or similar issues can arise with other teeth.
For more information about tooth removal in cats, or if you believe that your cat has a diseased tooth, contact us at Huntsville Veterinary Specialists & Emergency.