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Sometimes It's Better to Pull: With pricey options like crowns and root canals now available, you may wonder if pulling the tooth is had.

Canine root canals and crowns are available, but sometimes the best choice is a tooth extraction.

Canine dental extractions differ from human ones. Dog teeth tend to have extensive roots that go deep into the jaw and, in the case of rear teeth, such as premolars and molars, may even reach up near the eye. Important nerves, blood vessels, and even the nasal cavity can all be close enough to be involved in a tooth extraction.

With deeper roots, usually your dog's empty socket will be sutured closed. This prevents food building up in the socket and the exquisite pain that comes from "dry socket," which some people experience post dental extraction. The suture material will dissolve on its own, usually within two weeks.

Larger teeth, such as the premolars and molars, are often extracted in two pieces. That way your veterinarian has a better chance of removing the long roots intact. Overall, it means less trauma to your dog's mouth as well.

When Extractions Are Necessary

Broken or abscessed teeth in situations where a procedure such as a root canal may not be feasible or cost effective should be removed.

If a dog has severe periodontal disease that has led to bone loss around the root and in the jaw, extraction may be the best option for a pain-free mouth.

Stomatitis involving the gums around the teeth can be extremely painful and is often best treated by tooth extractions.

Sometimes a fractured jaw will heal best if some teeth are removed. Prior to removing teeth, your veterinarian will discuss options with you.

Dentigerous cysts are cysts that develop when a permanent tooth does not erupt through the gum. This is more common in brachycephalic dogs, like Pugs, and often occurs on both sides of the mouth. The most commonly affected teeth are the mandibular first premolar and the canine teeth.

Initially, owners just notice a missing tooth or two. A cyst eventually becomes evident. A swelling may be noticed and the cystic tooth can be identified on radiographs. The cyst structure may weaken the underlying bone and lead to pathological fractures. Removal of these dentigerous cysts and any tooth fragments is recommended. Your veterinarian may suggest follow-up radiographs to be sure all tooth fragments are gone and there is no recurrence of the cyst. These are most easily treated if caught early.

Prior to any dental extractions, your veterinarian will take dental radiographs to evaluate the status of tooth roots and the bone in the jaw around the teeth under consideration for removal. Normal presurgical procedures such as bloodwork to evaluate the kidneys and liver will also be done.

It is extremely important that every bit of the tooth root is removed. Roots left in the gum may abscess and/or create pain in the future. Gum flaps are opened up to be sure all the root is removed and then sutured closed.

Home Care

Your dog's mouth will be sore after an extraction. Some clinics will do a laser treatment or two post-surgery to help speed healing. You will be given pain medications for your dog in most cases, although it's less likely if it is just deciduous teeth or loose incisors being removed. If your dog has bad periodontal disease or signs of an infection in his mouth, antibiotics will be prescribed.

Your veterinarian may recommend softened food or a slurry for a few days. Most dogs return to regular diet and eating patterns rapidly because mouth tissues tend to heal rapidly. You will probably need to hold off on tooth brushing for a week or so while the tissues heal.

Bone Grafts

In rare cases with multiple extractions and poor condition of the jaw bones, a dental surgeon may elect to use a bone graft to help fill in defects and encourage faster healing.

Baby Teeth

The most commonly retained baby or deciduous teeth in dogs are the canine teeth or fangs. Generally, the roots of these teeth resorb, and they fall out by 6 months of age.

Retained teeth interfere with proper positioning of the corresponding adult tooth. In the case of a lower canine, that could mean shifting the adult tooth so that it is growing into the roof of the mouth. Firmly rooted deciduous canines may require anesthesia for removal.

What You Need to Know

Signs your dog may have a dental problem:

* Bad breath

* Blood in the mouth, water, food

* Cracked tooth

* Discolored teeth

* Drooling

* Dropping food

* Excess tartar buildup

* Loose tooth

* Missing tooth

* Painful mouth

* Swollen, inflamed (red) gums

* Weight loss despite trying to eat and drink
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Title Annotation:TEETH
Publication:Dog Watch
Date:Dec 1, 2018
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