Updated April 13, 2021
The tooth pictured here is fractured. Ignore the black gums, which are normal in dogs, and focus on the dental probe which is in the exposed (and dead) pulp cavity. This tooth is infected and needs removal.
It’s stressful knowing a dog or cat might lose teeth. The main worry is “how will they eat?” When it happens it is never as bad as feared.
The reason is that nearly all teeth removed by a vet are already causing pain. Therefore, dogs and cats who have had teeth taken out should eat better shortly afterwards. Owners of pets with severe problems also notice their pets are generally brighter and more active.
Even dogs who end up without teeth will eat dog food better than they did before as long as the food is kept small enough.
The greatest advances in pet dentistry have been in the provision of adequate pain control. Nowadays, nerve blocks are standard and animals should experience little or no pain. These are routinely combined with anti-inflammatory medications both at the time and afterwards at home.
Whether one or 20 teeth require removal, complications are rare and you can expect a fast recovery. A course of antibiotics may also be given depending on the need.
Eating After Dentistry
Most animals will eat a small dinner on the evening of surgery, and continue eating afterwards without problems.
You will get specific feeding instructions from your clinic depending on which teeth were removed. Sometimes it’s better to eat soft food , especially when stitches are present. Other times small kibble is preferred to prevent food getting impacted in the healing areas.
How Long Does It Take For A Tooth Extraction To Heal?
Uncomplicated tooth extraction sites will heal in approximately one to two weeks. Common reasons for delayed healing are remnant tooth fragments or food becoming stuck in deep sockets.
Stitches, if placed, should also dissolve in one to two weeks without issue. There may be a small amount of bleeding, but if your dog or cat is happy and eating, it’s no concern.
Options In Tooth Extractions
Like whenever we discuss the cost of veterinary care, there will be choices. That’s why you can divide tooth extractions into three basic situations:
- Where extraction is the only option
- Where extraction is the low cost choice compared with ongoing maintenance
- Where extraction is appropriate but specialist care could save the tooth
Vets skilled enough to perform advanced dentistry are still rare enough that there might not be one close to where you live. Costs for referral to a dental specialist quickly run into the thousands.
As valuable as the service is, no-one should feel that they have to go to a specialist. Especially when there are still far too many animals that get no treatment at all.
The Cost Of Tooth Extractions
Costs in general practice depend on the time and difficulty involved. I’ve previously published the costs of routine teeth cleaning here, and I would add the following amounts as a rough guide:
- For a single small tooth, add $200
- For a large tooth requiring sutures, add $400
- For many teeth, add $600 to $800
These prices include pain relief and antibiotics if needed, but are only estimates.
Often the only clue to teeth needing removal is bad breath. Please contact your vet if you suspect your dog or cat has dental problems. All it takes is a checkup to know for sure.
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By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These articles are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!