Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Cat Tooth Extractions: What to Expect & What to Watch For

Oral care should be a standard part of your cat's routine care to help prevent several issues that can have serious complications. Here, our White Hall vets talk about tooth extractions for cats, when they are needed, what to expect during and after and how to manage your cat's pain.

Cat Dental Surgery: Tooth Extractions

Your cat's oral health is important to their overall health and well-being. Your cat uses their mouth, teeth, and gums to eat and vocalize, so when their oral structures are diseased or damaged, and stop functioning properly, your cat experiences pain, which will interfere with their ability to eat and communicate normally. 

Also, the bacteria and infections that cause many oral health issues in cats won't just remain in your kitty's mouth. Left untreated the infection and bacteria from your cat's mouth may begin to circulate throughout your pet's body, damaging organs such as their kidneys, liver, and heart and leading to more serious impacts on the overall health and longevity of your feline friend.

Routine dental exams can help monitor your cat's overall oral health and note signs of dental conditions before they become too serious. These dental exams for your cat are much like when you visit your dentist.

A comprehensive dental exam consists of:

  • Probing the teeth and gumline to measure the depth of the pockets
  • Taking X-rays of the teeth, soft tissue, and bone to help visualize tooth roots and dental ligaments
  • Extracting (removing) any diseased teeth
  • Scaling and polishing (cleaning) the teeth
  • Assessing oral tumors and abnormalities 

In some cases, your vet may discover a serious issue affecting a tooth, resulting in tooth extraction. To determine if removal is the right course of action, your vet will note the signs, and complete their examination. After which they will likely perform additional diagnostics to confirm their findings.

Once confirmed they will share this information and treatment plan with you before scheduling (or performing if time permits) the dental surgery. Your vet will also perform pre-anesthetic bloodwork before the surgery to ensure that your cat is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.

Signs of Complications After Dental Surgery

Sutures may close gum tissue where teeth have been removed during your cat’s surgery. These sutures often dissolve on their own to avoid having another round of anesthesia for suture removal. In some cases, gum tissue is left open to drain and heal on its own. 

If your cat’s mouth tissue is infected, you may notice the following:

  • A foul odor coming from your cat’s mouth 
  • A slight swelling on the lower or upper jawline, or under the eye area; the eye may also seem to bulge or protrude from your cat’s head 
  • Refusal of food
  • Drainage from the nose or mouth 
  • General sluggishness
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth or rubbing their face on the ground
  • Dropping food while eating

Antibiotics may have already been sent home with you to prevent infection, but call your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs.

If your cat is not eating or sleeping after their dental surgery, you should reach out to your vet to have your feline friend examined.

What can your cat eat after a tooth extraction?

Offer soft foods for several days after your cat’s tooth extraction surgery. These include moist food, semi-moist food, and even kibble that is soaked in water. 

Speak with your veterinarian about any special feeding instructions after surgery to help decrease your cat’s discomfort and pain and encourage healing. 

Your veterinarian may also recommend changing your cat’s current diet to a therapeutic dental or oral care diet. These diets have been formulated and balanced to help control and decrease the incidence of dental disease. 

Dental diets are not a replacement for dental examinations, but they can help decrease the risks associated with dental disease.

How can you manage your cat's pain after dental surgery?

Locally injected numbing agents may have been used in your cat’s mouth to control pain during the tooth extraction surgery. Those local blocks can last anywhere from 6-24 hours, depending on the type of medication that was given.

After these blocks wear off, you will likely be instructed to give your cat oral medication to control the pain at home. 

Closely monitor your cat’s recovery and watch for signs that they are still in pain:

  • Vocalizing (meowing and howling)
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at their mouth 
  • Refusal of food
  • Hiding from people and other pets 
  • Lethargy (sluggishness) 

Some of these signs can also be side effects of anesthesia or pain medication. If you notice any of these signs and are giving your cat the medication as directed, call your vet to ask for the next steps. 

Do not stop giving medications unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian.

How long will it take my cat to recover after tooth extraction surgery?

Your vet will likely schedule a follow-up 7 - 14 days after your cat's dental extractions to look in their mouth and assess healing. Sometimes sedation is necessary, but the examination is usually quick and simple.

You may notice an initial change in your cat's behavior in the first few days of recovery. Your cat may not be sleeping or eating after dental surgery. This should only last a short time.

If your cat continues to display unusual behavior you should contact your vet for advice and to schedule a quick check-up.

How can you prevent dental issues that lead to tooth extractions?

To prevent future cat tooth extractions, your veterinarian may suggest certain products and activities to reduce plaque accumulation. These may include:  
  • Dental treats
  • Therapeutic dental diets
  • Water additives 
  • Toothbrushing 
  • Mouth rinsing 
Always speak with your veterinarian about dental products and when they should be started after a dental procedure.

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.

Do you need to bring your cat in for a dental examination? Contact our White Hall vets to book an appointment today.

Welcoming New Patients Everyday

We are accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of animals. Get in touch today to book a visit to our White Hall clinic.

Contact Us

(870) 247-3283 Contact