Tooth Extractions

The extraction of a tooth in the dog and cat may be necessary but can be very difficult to perform without damaging the gums unless special instruments are used along with good technique. The canine tooth has the longest root socket in the jaw. The root extends 2/3 the length of the exposed crown below the gums! The two upper 4th premolar carnassial (shearing) teeth in the jaw have three roots each. The roots diverge making it almost impossible to remove this tooth without sectioning it into three pieces first.

When the decision has been made to extract a tooth, the first step is to cut away the attached gum tissue with a scalpel blade. Next, the tooth is cut into individual sections, if it is multi-rooted, and the periodontal ligament is broken down all the way around the tooth with a tool called a luxator. The tooth is then elevated out of the socket with tooth extractors. The remaining sharp edges of the alveolar bone is then cut away to create a smooth surface for the reflected gum tissue to be sutured over with absorbable material. Antibiotics and soft food are usually given for a short period of time while the gums are healing. The use of pain medication for a couple of days is often appropriate.

It is important to handle the gums carefully during the extraction procedure to avoid tearing, puncturing or otherwise compromising the blood supply. No root tips should be left in the canal and a x-ray can be taken to confirm this. Excessive force should be avoided as it may result in fracturing the jaw or puncturing the skull accidentally.

Ideally, it is best if you can save the tooth but if you can’t careful extraction will result in a comfortable healing process. In the case of the lessor important teeth most pets adjust easily and do very well without them due to the processing of the commercial pet foods of today. Most pets don’t chew their food the way we do but rather coat the food with saliva and then swallow it.

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