What can I expect after a dental procedure in my animal?
The extent of postoperative care in dental patients varies depending on the extent of the disease(s) and procedure(s).
Generally, bloody-tinged saliva may be seen for 2-3 days following dental procedures, but no active bleeding should occur – if it does, the veterinarian must be contacted immediatelly. If there was any nasal disease present as a sequel to dental disease (e.g., oronasal fistula), then bloody-tinged nasal discharge is also expected for up to 3 days. Mild swelling of the face associated with surgical areas can also occur, but should resolve within 3-5 days. Also, a mild cough or voice change may be present due to airway irritation from anaesthesia, and should resolve within 2-3 days. Animals may be slightly sleepy from anaesthesia, if discharged on the day of the procedure, so they should be kept inside. In hot summer months, assure the animal is kept in an air-conditioned place and in cold winter months in a warm place, as they may have problems with thermoregulation.
Food and toys
If only basic periodontal treatment was performed, the animal can be fed regular foods and return to normal habits immediately. Hard foods, chews and toys should be avoided for at least 7 days, if any oral surgery was performed. In cases of advanced surgical procedures (e.g., jaw surgery, palatal surgery), this period should be extended to 3-4 weeks and animals fed soft food (canned food or kibble soaked in warm water) and any chews and toys avoided during this period. A smaller meal of (soft) food on the evening of the procedure, and free access to water is fine.
All animals are discharged with a topical antiseptic (usually a gel or a mouthwash) after a dental procedure and this should be used twice daily for 2 weeks. If no surgery was performed, daily toothbrushing should start as soon as possible (e.g., the day after the procedure), but in cases of surgery, toothbrushing is delayed by the 2-week recheck.
Most commonly used medications
All patients receive several pain medications (multimodal analgesia) and any other medications as needed before and after the procedure. In cases where periodontal treatment was the only procedure performed, no medications are usually needed at home. Otherwise the need for medications is determined by the extent of the disease(s) and procedure(s) performed. If the animal seems painful, or you notice any other problem, please, contact your veterinarian.
Do not give over-the-counter (pain) medications as they may be toxic to the animals!
Non-steroidal antiinflammatory pain medications (e.g., carprofen, meloxicam, ...) are the most common medications used to control pain and inflmmation at home for at least 3 days after surgical procedures. This medications should be given with food to minimize gastrointestinal tract irritation. If any black or tarry stool is noted, or if the animal is vomiting, please call your veterinarian immediately. Side effects of this medication, if given as instructed, are rare.
Opiod analgesics are in majority of the cases restricted to the in-hospital use due to their potential serious side effects and also due to legislation. If postoperative pain is expected to be so severe to require opioid analgesics, we would recommend the animal stays in the hospital for a day or two after the procedure, if at all possible.
Antibiotics are used in carefuly selected cases to control infection. If the animal was prescribed with an antibiotic, please, follow exactly the recommended treatment regimen. Side-effects of this treatment are rare, but may include vomiting and diarrhea.
In selected cases the animal will be prescribed other medications and all the neccessary instructions will be given.
The sutures (if any) placed in the animal's mouth will dissolve within 2-3 weeks. However, a re-check appointment is recommended in 2 weeks with your veterinary dentist to evaluate healing of the extraction sites. We will also discuss oral home care program for your animal at this time.
If you have noted any problems with your animal, please consult your veterinarian.
Article by Ana Nemec