Mar 03 2015

Just Say No… to “Anesthesia-Free Dentistry”

What is “Anesthesia-Free Dentistry”?

Commonly known as “anesthesia-free dental cleanings”, the practice involves scaling (scraping with a sharp instrument) of a dog or cat’s teeth without putting the pet under anesthesia.

Why is it a problem?

  • There is no way to clean under the gumline where periodontal disease occurs, and periodontal disease is what leads to tooth loss. Cleaning under the gumline is the most important part of the dental cleaning.  Removal of tartar on the visible part of the tooth (crown) is cosmetic only and does not improve the health of your pet’s teeth.
  • Because the teeth are not assessed below the gumline, any underlying disease cannot be identified and treated.
  • Scaling the teeth without polishing leaves a rough surface on the teeth which actually increases the adherence of bacteria.
  • It is impossible to take dental x-rays, which are one of the most important diagnostic tools we have in dentistry.  And it is impossible to fully evaluate all surfaces of the tooth.
  • Patients must be tightly physically restrained, possibly making them resistant to normal restraint in the future.  It can also lead to fear of having their head or face touched.  We have seen this problem firsthand.  
  • Dental tartar is adhered firmly to the teeth and removing it requires the use of a sharp instruments – even slight movement of the head while scaling the teeth can result in injury to the gums and other soft tissues in the mouth, which is very painful.
  • In the long run, because the teeth look whiter, pet owners often have a false sense of security, leaving underlying dental problems unnoticed. Over time, this undiagnosed and untreated disease increases the risk of serious complications, like tooth loss and infection.
  • Over time, having frequent “anesthesia-free dental cleanings” will cost more than having an annual professional dental cleaning with your veterinarian.

But anesthesia scares me!

Although anesthesia cannot ever be 100% risk-free, we practice very high standards of anesthesia safety and know that the risk associated with “anesthesia-free dental cleanings” are much higher than a controlled and thorough dental procedure under anesthesia.  Click here to read more about Frontier’s commitment to anesthesia safety.

Frontier is American Animal Hospital Association Accredited – what is AAHA’s position on dentistry?

In order for us to maintain our AAHA Accreditation, all dental cleanings be performed under anesthesia.  Click here for more information.

For another veterinarian’s perspective on “anesthesia-free dental cleanings”, read this blog post.

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