Cat Tooth Extraction Recovery Guide

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Published: July 27, 2021

Dental disease in cats is a condition that shows up often in middle-aged cats. Since only 20% of a cat’s teeth can be seen during a normal physical examination, your cat should have complete oral health evaluations that are performed under general anesthesia. 

Cat tooth removal may occur during a comprehensive dental exam, which 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 

Here’s what you need to know about helping your cat recover from tooth extraction surgery.

What to Watch for After Your Cat’s Dental Surgery 

Sutures may be used to 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.

What To Feed Your Cat After Teeth Extraction Surgery 

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.

Managing Your Cat’s Pain After Tooth Extraction

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 from 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 next steps. 

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

How Long Does It Take for Cats To Recover From Tooth Extraction? 

Most veterinarians will schedule a recheck 7-14 days after cat dental extractions to look in their mouth and assess healing.  Sometimes sedation is necessary, but the examination is usually quick and simple.

How To Prevent Future Cat 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 

Consider looking over the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s (VOHC) website for approved products that help with dental disease and plaque accumulation.

Always speak with your veterinarian about dental products and when they should be started after a dental procedure