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The Truth About Anesthesia-Free Dental Care for Pets
Anesthesia-free dental care for pets , gentle dental care for pets, holistic pet dental care…these seem to be all the rage in veterinary dental care these days. But are they really all they are cracked up to be? The truth, no.
During a non-anesthetic dental cleaning, the veterinarian is extremely limited. While superficial scraping will leave the pet’s teeth visibly whiter, your veterinarian cannot clean beneath the gum line where the bacteria that causes periodontal disease actually lives. This is the bacteria that causes bad breath and extensive damage to a tooth’s root and bone structure. Removing tarter from only the visible surfaces of the tooth is purely cosmetic and has very little effect on the pet’s health. This procedure does more harm than good because it gives pet owners a false sense of security and accomplishment.
When you Google “non-anesthetic dentals” you’ll find a plethora of information and websites touting how wonderful and effective this procedure is. Our advice to pet owners is “buyers beware.” Do a little more research before scheduling this type of appointment.
Here are some facts
The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) has issued a Position Statement discouraging non-anesthetic dental procedures stating that “non-professional dental scalings on unanesthetized pets is inappropriate…”
Dental scaling without anesthesia does not allow sufficient access to all surfaces of the teeth for comprehensive cleaning and evaluation. What does that mean and why is it important?
Basically, it means this; because the patient is not anesthetized they will move. This motion inhibits the technician (or whoever is performing the procedure) from being able to thoroughly exam and clean all surfaces of the tooth, including below the gum line.
As you’ve learned from your dentist, tarter firmly adheres to the surface of the teeth, both above and below the gum line. The most important part of a dental cleaning is scaling the subgingival space between the gum and the root, where periodontal disease is active. This process is uncomfortable, and even painful, causing the patient to move and try to escape. This movement makes access to the subgingival area of each tooth impossible.
4 direct benefits of anesthesia
Routine anesthesia is very safe with a low rate of complication. Occasional problems can arise due to pre-existing conditions not evident during physical exam. You can prevent anesthetic complication with pre-anesthetic blood work.
Using anesthesia for a dental procedure is beneficial for four specific reasons:
- It eliminates the problem of the patient moving during the procedure.
- It manages the pain associated with proper examination and scaling.
- It protect the patient’s airway from accidental aspiration of tarter and bacteria.
- It allows for a complete and comprehensive oral exam (when the patient is not anesthetized, area’s of disease and discomfort are likely to be missed during exam).