Written by Dr. Stephen Longridge
There is commonly a difficult discussion with pet owners regarding their pets’ upcoming dental…..do teeth need to be extracted? If so, how many? Many owners gasp at the possibility that their animal may realistically need to have 10, 15, 20 (or sometimes more) teeth removed during the procedure. Even when I can show the client that many of the teeth are wiggling in the socket, rotton and pungent, and the gums are blazing red and sore to the touch….they still resist the notion that so many teeth need to be extracted, pleading with me to spare as many as possible.
But saving as many of the “so-so” teeth as possible is not necessarily in the dog or cat’s best interest. For starters, pretty much any tooth which is loose in its socket has little chance of becoming a good, healthy tooth again. Oral bacteria will continue to erode their way down beside the tooth, perpetuating the breakdown of support structures and destroying the surrounding bone. All the while, this exposure of deep root tissues creates sensitivity/pain and can also allow bacteria from the mouth to enter the blood stream. It is well known, in humans and animals, that such bacteria in the circulation can slowly but insidiously damage important organs such as the liver, kidneys and heart valves.
Once damaged and unhealthy teeth can be removed from the mouth, the jaw bones can re-strengthen/re-mineralize themselves, the sensitivity dissipates, the smell disappears, and the animal is often happier than before. The goal of the dental procedure is to relieve oral pain and the source of bacterial gingivitis, not to hang on to every tooth “at all cost”. I have had many clients who were typically hesitant to consent to multiple extractions, yet thanked me months later for the renewed energy and comfort they now observe in their pet, as well as the disappearance of that horrid smell.
We are here to help. One of our veterinarians or technicians can make an initial assessment of your pet’s oral health and decide what is needed to maintain or improve it. If some simple but consistent oral care is instituted early in life, then hopefully fewer and fewer pets will face extractions in the future.
Read more on Brigadier, a handsome 3 year old Golden Retriever dental appointment