Caring for your feline friend involves more than just providing food, shelter, and affection. Dental health is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of a cat's well-being. Understanding when cat dental surgery is necessary, what to expect after the procedure, and how to care for your cat during recovery can significantly affect their health and comfort.

When is dental surgery necessary in cats?

A cat tooth extraction is when a veterinarian surgically removes your cat's tooth. Extractions can go as deep as the roots or might stop at removing the dental crown (the part of the tooth that is visible above the gums). Dental surgery becomes necessary for cats due to several common conditions:

  • Periodontal disease: This is the most common reason for tooth extractions. If untreated, it can lead to severe pain, infection, and even systemic health issues.
  • Tooth resorption is a painful condition where the tooth structure breaks down and resorbs into the gums, often requiring extraction.
  • Fractured teeth: Broken teeth can expose nerves and lead to significant pain and infection.
  • Severe gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums that do not respond to other treatments may require tooth removal.
Consulting with a cat dentist is essential if you notice symptoms like bad breath, difficulty eating, pawing at the mouth, or visible issues with the teeth and gums.

The Necessity of Removing Cat Teeth

When a tooth is damaged beyond repair, it is important to remove it to prevent infection and pain caused by the dead tooth. In most cases, this decay is caused by periodontal (gum) disease.

Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque on your cat's teeth that eventually hardens into a substance called calculus or tartar. If not removed, the hardened tartar will cause pockets of infection between the gum line and the teeth, leading to gum erosion and tooth decay. You can help prevent gum disease with at-home dental care and regularly scheduled professional dental appointments.

Cats are also susceptible to a condition called feline tooth resorption. This occurs when painful erosions develop on a cat's tooth or teeth, breaking down the structures that form the tooth. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent feline tooth resorption, and the affected teeth almost always need to be extracted.

Cat Tooth Extraction Process 

When your cat needs a tooth extraction, they will be given general anesthesia for their safety and comfort. Before the procedure, your vet may recommend diagnostic tests such as blood work, X-rays, or an EKG to ensure your cat is healthy enough for anesthesia.

During the surgery, a veterinary technician will continuously monitor your cat, administer pain medication, and ensure their vital signs remain stable. The technique used for the extraction will depend on the size and location of the teeth being removed.

What to Expect After Cat Dental Surgery

After surgery, your cat will require time and extra care to recover fully. The anesthesia may cause your cat to feel sleepy and disoriented for a few hours after the surgery. Make sure they have a quiet, comfortable place to rest. Your vet will likely prescribe pain medication. Follow the vet's instructions to keep your cat comfortable. It's typical for cats to have a reduced appetite for a day or two. Your vet may recommend soft foods or a prescription diet during this time. Your cat may be less active and more withdrawn, but this is normal and should improve as they recover.

What to Watch For After the Surgery

While some post-operative symptoms are expected, there are specific signs that warrant immediate veterinary attention:

  • A small amount of bleeding is average, but continuous or excessive bleeding is not.
  • Some swelling is typical, but if it’s severe or increases after the first few days, consult your vet.
  • Watch for pus, an unpleasant odor, or excessive drooling, as these can indicate an infection.
  • Difficulty breathing or lethargy are serious symptoms requiring prompt veterinary care.

Why can't a cat sleep or eat after dental surgery?

Cats may have difficulty sleeping or eating after dental surgery due to pain, anesthesia disorientation, or surgical site discomfort. If your cat is not sleeping or eating after dental surgery, monitoring them closely is essential. Persistent issues in these areas should be discussed with your vet to ensure proper pain management and recovery.

Cat Tooth Extraction 

Cat tooth extractions and dental surgeries, while daunting, are often necessary for maintaining your pet's health and quality of life. Understanding what to expect and how to care for your cat post-surgery can help ensure a smooth recovery.

Always consult a cat dentist or your vet if you have concerns about your cat’s dental health or recovery process. With the proper care, your feline friend will return to their happy, healthy self in no time.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned that your cat may require a tooth extraction? Contact our Gardena vets to book an appointment today.