Most dentistry patients are going home the same day of the procedure. They will be discharged from the hospital when ready to have a short walk and a small meal. Only those cats and dogs that received major oral surgery (e.g., jaw resection, maxillofacial trauma repair, full-mouth and/or complicated dental extractions) or are (rarely) unstable after the procedure are usually kept in the hospital for a few days.
Upon discharge of your animal from the hospital the veterinarian will provide you with written discharge instructions for your animal, but make sure you also obtain any additional information from your veterinarian that you feel you need about your animal.
What is expected after oral surgery?
Oral/nasal bleeding and discharge
After any oral surgery blood-tinged saliva may be seen for 2-3 days. If there was any nasal involvement with the disease or surgery, blood-tinged nasal discharge and sneezing is also expected for 2-3 days. Any active bleeding is not normal – immediately call your veterinarian.
A mild cough or voice change may be present due to airway irritation from anaesthesia (endotracheal intubation is needed for all patients undergoing dental procedures) and should resolve within 2-3 days.
Mild to moderate swelling and/or bruising is expected in the surgical area (e.g., below the eye when maxillary fourth premolar is removed), but any excessive swelling or bad breath is not normal and requires a re-check.
Animals may be sleepy from anaesthesia, so please keep them supervised/inside until the next day. However, apathy is not normal and your veterinarian should be contacted if any is noticed.
Altered facial symmetry and function
Apart transitory swelling, after certain procedures, altered facial expression and function is expected. Major jaw resection (e.g. mandibulectomy or maxillectomy) will result in an altered facial appearance of your animal and (mostly transitory) problems with function. These sequelae of the treatment need to be discussed before the procedure.
After extraction of the lower mandibular canine tooth, the tongue may hang out of the mouth (glossoptosis) especially in dogs, which is usually just of a cosmetic concern. Extraction (especially of both) mandibular canine teeth and also mandibular first molar teeth in small dogs may temporary significantly weaken the jaw and care at play is needed for a few weeks to avoid jaw fracture.
In cats, extraction of the upper canine tooth may result in upper lip entrapment with the lower canine tooth, resulting in significant trauma.
Which medications do I need to get?
Make sure you understand what medications were prescribed to your animal, how they are given and what are their possible side effects. Please, follow the instructions. Always inform your veterinarian, if your animal seems painful – animals must not experience pain after the procedure and pain medications need to be adjusted with your veterinarian, if animal seems painful. Do not give over-the-counter pain medications as they may be toxic.
What shall I feed my animal?
After oral surgery, animals should be given soft food (e.g., canned food or kibble soaked in warm water) and oral play restricted for 5-7 days. If major oral surgery was performed, this period will be extended to a few weeks. Do not switch to completely different food to avoid gastrointestinal upset. In rare cases, animals may receive a feeding tube and detailed instructions on its’ use will be provided.
When should I book a recheck appointment?
If any sutures were placed in your pet’s mouth, these will normally dissolve within a few weeks. A recheck appointment is recommended in 2 weeks with your veterinary dentist to evaluate healing. If healing is favourable, daily oral home care needs to be reinstituted at this time in most cases. If your animal received endodontic treatment, a recheck under general anaesthesia is needed in 3-6 months. Some other treatments will also require a recheck with your animal being placed under general anaesthesia.
If you have noted any problems with your animal, please consult your veterinarian.