Common Types of Dental Surgery for Dogs

Dental surgery for dogs has become a fairly routine procedure that ranges from routine preventive care to tooth extractions and root canals. Let’s look at some of the most common surgical procedures dogs can undergo to maintain good dental health.

Routine Dental Cleaning

Teeth cleaning (or scaling) should be part of your dog’s annual checkup. He will be anesthetized to have the procedure don, and your veterinarian may prescribe follow-up antibiotics to ward off possible infection.

Canine teeth cleaning usually involves removing plaque and tartar from above and below the dog’s gumline. The clean teeth are then polished to remove irregularities and to reduce the chances of plaque reforming on the clean surfaces. The dog’s mouth is then rinsed to remove any debris that the cleaning procedure loosened.

Gum Disease

More than 80 percent of dogs over the age of 3 have gum disease, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society. It is the most common dental problem affecting pet cats and dogs, and it may require surgical intervention to treat effectively.

The first indication many dog owners have of a potential dental problem in their pets is when the dog develops bad breath. A plaque buildup on the dog’s gums is responsible for the odor, and the buildup can also cause gum disease and possible tooth loss if it is left untreated.

Untreated plaque causes the dog’s gums to pull away from his teeth, opening pockets at the tooth roots that can collect food and other debris. Infection can develop in these pockets, and tooth loss can eventually result.

Other indications of gum disease include inflamed or receding gums, bleeding and pain. Untreated gum disease can infect other parts of your dog’s body because the infection in his mouth can spread through his bloodstream and damage his heart, liver and kidneys.

Root Canals

Dogs break their teeth more often than cats do, perhaps because dogs are more prone to chewing on bones and other hard objects. In some cases, a root canal may be able to save a fractured tooth that might otherwise be extracted.

Indications that your dog has a tooth needing a root canal include watery eyes, drooling, facial swelling, or pawing at the mouth or muzzle. Your dog may continue to eat normally even with an infected tooth.

Many veterinarians prefer root canals over extractions because the root canal leaves the dog with a functional tooth. Root canals have been shown to be less painful and to require a shorter recovery time than extractions.

Tooth Extractions

In some cases, a tooth cannot be saved and must be extracted. Extractions are likely if a tooth is badly decayed, if it is cracked or damaged so badly that the pulpy interior is exposed or it is so loose that it moves freely in its socket.

Dental extractions are performed under either local or general anesthesia, and pain relievers and antibiotics may be prescribed as part of the dog’s post-operative care.

Other Dental Surgical Procedures

Your dog may also require dental surgery if he develops a benign or cancerous tumor in his mouth or if he suffers a traumatic injury to his mouth. Your veterinarian can provide additional information on these situations.