Dental Implants for Dogs and Cats

When a dog or a cat loses a tooth, the space can be filled with a dental implant. Veterinary dentists are replacing missing teeth with implants just like human dentists do for people. For working dogs that use their mouths to apprehend suspects, retrieve prey or pick up keys for people with disabilities, dental implants allow them to continue their work. Dental implants have been placed in wild animals allowing them to catch prey and return to their natural environment.

Dental Implant Snip 2015
Lower Canine Implant

But dental implants are not for every dog or cat. Successful implants require strong bone to hold the implant. Most of the dogs and cats I see lose teeth due to periodontal disease. Bacteria release enzymes that work over time to destroy the structures that hold teeth in place. Periodontal disease is classified into four stages based on the amount of support loss. More information may be found at my post, “Periodontal Disease in Dogs and Cats”.  If the bacteria are not removed from around the implant, it will suffer the same fate as the tooth it replaced.

Before placing implants in a dog or cat’s mouth, I recommend an honest evaluation of home care. Will daily brushing be possible with the family’s routine? Will the dog or cat allow it? If the answer to either of these questions is no, then a simple extraction would be better for the pet. Remember, implants can become infected leading to pain just like happens to some teeth.

Source:

Tannenbaum, J. et al, “The case against the use of dental implants in dogs and cats.” J. Am Vet Med Assoc. December 15, 2013;243(12):1680-5.

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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