What To Do If Your Cat Needs A Tooth Extraction

Ouch 🦷

cat tooth extraction

Knowing your cat needs a tooth extraction can cause any pet parent to worry. You don’t want him to be in pain with a rotten tooth, but the dentist is so scary.

So if you find out your BFF needs to get one of his pearly whites pulled, you may be wondering what this means for him — and you.

The Dodo spoke with Amy Gardiner, a vet tech and hospital administrator at Absecon Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey, to find out everything you need to know if your cat needs to lose a tooth.

Why your cat needs a tooth pulled

Your cat will usually need an extraction if he is experiencing tooth resorption — which is when his tooth starts wearing away or dissolving underneath the enamel.

“If during your pet’s oral exam at the time of their veterinary exam ... tooth resorption is noted, the veterinarian will notify you that your pet more than likely needs that tooth [or multiple teeth] pulled,” Gardiner told The Dodo.

Your cat might be experiencing tooth resorption if he’s showing symptoms like:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Not eating
  • Bad smell coming from his mouth
But resorption isn’t the only reason your cat might need to get a tooth removed. Other reasons include:
  • Genetic predisposition to dental disease
  • Breaking a tooth
  • Tartar accumulation that leads to tooth and gum decay

What to expect from your vet

If your cat is showing any of those signs, you should go to the vet for a dental exam, to figure out if an extraction is the way to go.

“When the vet evaluates your pet’s dental radiographs, they will examine the root of the tooth to make sure it is healthy and not decaying,” Gardiner explained.

And if your cat actually does need a tooth pulled, Gardiner recommends you follow all the recommended pre-operative steps your vet suggests.

These can include things like:

  • Bloodwork
  • Radiographs
  • An EKG
  • An echocardiogram (if your cat has a heart condition)
And right before the extraction, your vet should do a last-minute check on your cat’s condition, in case there needs to be any updates made to the procedure.

“At the time of the dental procedure, your vet should perform full dental radiographs while your pet is under anesthesia. This gives the veterinarian the opportunity to see the tooth’s health below the gumline.”

That way, your vet will be able to tell if any additional teeth need to be removed.

How to help your cat after the extraction

While your cat is recovering, there are a few things you can do to help your BFF be as comfortable as possible.

According to Gardiner, your cat will typically need to eat only soft food for two weeks after the procedure.

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During that time, Gardiner also recommends keeping your cat away from hard treats or toys.

The vet should also send you home with medication for your cat.

“[Your cat] will also go home with pain medications to keep them comfortable while the incision sites heal,” Gardiner said. “If there was any infection noted at the time of the extractions, your pet will probably go on home on antibiotics.”

Once your cat is home, certain post-op things are normal, like if he has difficulty eating or there are hints of blood in his saliva.

But be on the lookout for warning signs like:

  • Not eating altogether
  • Significant bleeding from the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Face swelling
If you notice your cat experiencing any of those things, contact your vet right away, because they could be indicative of something more serious than standard recovery.

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