For several thousand years, cats have relied on their ability to hunt and kill prey – a trait that paved the way for their domestication. You can say that the cat’s mouth, packed with over 30 serrated teeth and an abrasive tongue, is its capital ‘tools of the trade.’
As one of the most widely used parts of their body, it is only natural for their oral health to be a priority in terms of maintenance.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that over two-thirds of the cat owners in the United States do not tend to their feline companion’s teeth regularly. Not surprisingly due to this customary neglect, up to 70 percent of all adult cats are diagnosed with some form of oral disease at 3 years of age.
At this point, a veterinary dentist would prescribe the removal of some tooth/teeth. In severe cases, the vet dentist will strongly recommend having a long-term schedule for having all teeth removed (full-mouth extraction).
Average Cost of Tooth Extraction
Oral disease, as mentioned earlier, is pretty much vague a terminology. However, it conveys the urgency for pet owners to commit their cats to the most practical and expedient emergency treatment.
An oral disease that prompts teeth removal usually includes the following illnesses:
- Periodontal disease
- Tooth resorption
If your cat is already well beyond 3 years old and is diagnosed with one or more of the aforementioned oral diseases, expect to have your vet dentist advocate for full mouth extraction. It is important to understand, however, that most of the veterinary dental services charge per tooth extracted.
Based on the fee schedule presented by a Nebraska-based All Feline Hospital, pet owners are expected to pay roughly $75 to $150 per tooth extracted. Under such a rough estimate, you will possibly accumulate around $2,250 to $4,500 for the overall cat full mouth extraction cost by the end of the long-term treatment.
Fortunately, there are ways for you to avail for dental extraction services at a significantly reduced price. Animal welfare organizations are at the forefront of providing health care for any pet owner who qualifies as a low-income beneficiary.
The Southern California Veterinary Group is connected to three medical facilities in the region, namely:
- Lake Elsinore Animal Hospital
- Norco Animal Hospital
- Valley Veterinary Clinic
All of these healthcare institutions offer fixed-rate dental packages. For cats below 5 years of age, the rate is $399. Beyond 5 years old, cat owners are expected to pay $499.
Diagnostics & Preps
Procedures that are performed before the dental extraction are usually billed as package fee alongside the operation itself. After all, successful removal of teeth is a painstaking endeavor leaning strictly towards precision.
Vital support systems like intravenous (IV) fluids and gas anesthetics are considered inseparable elements in the costing.
However, not all vet clinics include relevant diagnostic tests in the overall pricing scheme. For instance, the welfare group thriving in the Minnesota area called Animal Humane Society presents a different fee organization.
Excluding its $250-worth extraction, here are examples of relevant diagnostic tests and elective preparatory procedures it itemizes separately:
- Preoperative antibiotics: $10 to $20
- Preoperative blood panel: $32
- Simple cleaning: $150
- Extensive cleaning: $250
The Aftercare Timeline
Knowing how to take care of your cat after its dental surgery is the final piece of the puzzle that completes the overall definition of successful teeth removal. As a pet owner, you have the sole responsibility of being your feline companion’s on-duty caretaker.
This particular task would take several days to conclude and here is how it progressively transpires:
An hour or so after surgery…
During this juncture, the vet dentist will either allow you to bring your cat home or suggest having it confined for observation within 24 hours. Anyone who brought their cat home also needs to be monitored every 6 to 8 hours within the day as the anesthesia wears off.
It is important to take note that a cat that has gone through surgery would not be operating normally. It would either be groggy, moody, sensitive, lethargic or aggressive.
While it is resting and striving to remove the meds out of its system, make sure you are able to do the following:
- Remove elevated objects.
- Set the comfy bedding on the floor.
- Provide easy (near) access to the litter box.
- Keep children/guests away from them.
- Do not play rough with them.
The next day after surgery…
After 24 hours, it’s either your cat gets to go home with you for the first time or you’d be expecting gradual progress from its earlier confinement at home. At this point, it is best to turn your attention to its feeding. The rule of thumb is to replace its once favorite dry food with soft wet ones.
Aside from providing comfort and ease, the idea of feeding cats that have undergone teeth extraction soft wet food is to avoid filling the sockets or tampering sutures around the gums. It takes 2 to 4 weeks for these stitches to dissolve completely.
Previous guidelines need to be observed (if not applied for the first time). Nonetheless, they may have regained a fraction of their functional strength.
Hence, at this point, the cats’ restored appetite has to be a paramount concern. Keep them in the wet food diet for the next 10 days.
2 to 3 days after surgery…
You may expect significant positive changes during this segment of aftercare recovery. After all, the anesthesia is expected to completely subside within 48 hours.
The vet dentist will usually want to check on the former patient for possible complications a couple of days after the cat was discharged.
On the third day of its recovery, the cat is expected to return to its normal physical activities. You are advised to minimize or avoid the roughhousing until a couple of days after its follow-up checkup.
You also need to check the incision every day, twice a day, for the next ten days and report any unusual development to the vet dentist.
Prevention: Oral Hygiene
As mentioned earlier, feline dental surgery could have been completely avoided if pet owners would devote a small portion of their time maintaining their cats’ oral health.
There is more than one way to go about it and it would be best to commit to them all.
Here are the following tips for maintaining wholesome oral hygiene:
- Brush the cat’s teeth once a day using only vet-prescribed toothpaste.
- Spray vet-prescribed mouthwash every 12 hours a day.
- Feed your cat raw meat 2 to 3 times a week to encourage chewing.
- Encourage further gum exercise by giving it chew toys to play with.
- Lace the cat’s water bowl with an oral additive to prevent tartar/plaque buildup.
- Set dental cleaning appointments with the vet dentist as much as every 4 months.
Prevention: Spot the Symptoms
If you intend to keep a younger feline companion, the previous experience of the older one who went through this stressful dental surgery could prove a cautionary basis for future custodianship. Failure to keep the aforementioned oral hygiene tips as habits will likely result in the same unfortunate condition when the younger kitty reaches 3 years of age.
Knowing how a cat feels is crucial for treating one or all of the aforementioned oral diseases – possibly circumventing tooth extraction altogether. Here are the clinical signs that warrant an immediate appointment with the vet dentist:
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Facial swelling
- Soreness or bleeding along the gum line
- Receding of the gums
- Drooling, often with partially bloody saliva
- Difficulty eating (unable to chew properly)
- Loss of appetite
- Scratching or pawing the mouth
What is Stomatitis?
While tooth extraction is necessitated by gingivitis, periodontal disease or tooth resorption, the persistent inflammation of the cat’s gums can have more serious underlying illness that permanently harasses the immune system. This condition is called Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis (FCGS) or simply stomatitis.
Unlike common gingivitis or tooth resorption, stomatitis perpetuates the same discomfort and allows them to resurface even after a series of non-invasive treatments. This condition has a viral and bacterial component and, unfortunately, remains incurable.
Tooth extraction remains to be one of the most effective long-term management procedures for stomatitis as of date.
Up to 4% of the cats in the United States are prone to FCGS. Due to the nature of this disease, veterinary experts are continuing their research on stem cell therapy as a viable remedy.
As of now, these are the possible alternative treatments other than dental surgery:
- Oral antiseptics
- Systemic antibiotics
- Systemic steroids
- Laser ablation