Taking care of your dog’s teeth is an important responsibility for a dog owner. Being a pet owner myself, I understand how stressful in can be in sorting out your questions during the brief time you have with the vet. Especially when it comes to a giving your dog a surgery, its best to as well informed as possible to help support your canine. Dental extraction ranks high amongst the most common veterinary surgeries, so I have put together some relevant information to help you get started even before visiting the vet.
Why Do Dogs Need Dental Extractions?
Dental extraction, or removing the dog’s teeth, may be due to several reasons. Many of these can cause abnormalities around the tooth, but if the dog’s tooth itself is stable and not infected – then there are other things you can try to save the tooth and avoid dental extractions.
Most common reason for dental extraction, the periodontal disease, is also known as gum disease. The disease occurs due to bacteria infecting and weakening the periodontal ligaments, the bits of tissue that attach the tooth to its underlying bone. Once this tissue is sufficiently weakened, the infection can run deeper, creating abscesses between the tooth and bone.
The tooth would eventually lose its bony mooring, become loose in its socket at fall out. The disease progresses in four stages, so a quick diagnosis and treatment before stage three can avoid a teeth extraction.
Especially if your dog is a very active breed, they may injure themselves to tooth fracture. The first course of action for the vet would be to conduct root canal therapy. But if this doesn’t work, they may have to perform a tooth extraction as even a healthy fractured tooth can cause pain because of the exposed nerves.
The vet may choose to go ahead with the procedure to avoid traumatic occlusion, a condition that is caused by teeth hitting another or digging into the gum tissues. Similar to the reason why humans get their wisdom tooth removed!
Unerupted teeth are the ones that remain under the gum line. They haven’t found their normal sprouting and can get quite painful for your dog to chew things.
This is most frequently found in brachycephalic breeds like:
- Boston terriers
- French bulldog and English bulldog
Finally, its possible that the dog has tooth decay. Almost always, the vet will correct it by filling a cavity. But if it’s left for too long and the decay has seeped deep into the gum, then extraction will be required. Just like how we humans need to be visiting the vet for a cavity check, so do our dogs!
What To Expect In The Surgical Room?
It is most likely that the pet owner will not be allowed inside the operation room for a dental extraction. It’s usually reserved for the vet, nurse and the anesthesiologist. It can get quite nerve wrecking in the waiting room, wondering about what your furry friend is going through.
The tooth extraction procedure really depends on a case-by-case bases. Depending on the dogs tooth, and level infection/decay it can be extracted in one quick motion. Or may require the vet to spend an hour or more in the surgery room.
In general, tooth extraction would be carried out in these steps:
- Cleaning of all teeth and gums with pressurized water
- A full mouth x-ray, several may be taken from different angles if the vet requires it
- Localizing on the correct tooth/teeth for extraction
- Administering local anesthetic on the area
- Surgically create flaps in the nearby tissue
- Break down ligaments by using the drill to isolate the roots
- Clean the space between teeth and gums
- Carry out another x-ray to confirm root removal
- Stitch the flaps closed
- Apply sealant to the surgical area
What Is The Recovery Process To This Procedure?
The dog should be back to their normal activity and appetite within 48 to 72 hours. Technically though, the recovery isn’t complete till the incision area is healed entirely and the stitches are absorbed in. It would be best feed the dog soft food, keep their bones and chew toys out of reach, and restrict their activity for two weeks.
Be sure to check in with the vet after the two weeks to see if the infection or other possible reason for extraction is under control. At times, if the infection were serious, the vet may recommend an antiseptic mouthwash to be syringed onto the dog’s gums. In that case, calendula tea can be a good natural option.
Some warning signs to look for post-surgery –
- Experiencing extreme pain
- Excessive swelling
- Heavy bleeding
- Increased drooling
- Sudden change in eating or behavioral habits
What Are Some Preventive Measures You Can Take?
Your first step would be to ensure the dog has their routine veterinary dentistry visit. As mentioned before, catching any infection early on can help treat the condition easily. Your vet will be the best judge in deciding to schedule a full oral examination and teeth cleaning as necessary.
Some simple steps you can take are –
- Brushing his teeth daily, it shouldn’t take over 3-4 minutes
- Investing in good quality chew toys that don’t harm teeth
- Restrict your dog from accessing bones, rocks and hard chewable like antlers and hooves
- Provide dog food formula that can help reduce plaque and tartar build up
With constant observation and consistent dental care, starting from an early age, chances are your dog will not need any teeth pulled out. But its important to know that it might be necessary, so I hope this article helps you better prepare and care for the dental extraction.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments below!