Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleanings, Are They Worth It?

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The simple answer is no. Speaking as a pet parent, I can understand why other pet parents may find dental cleanings without anesthesia appealing. No pet parent wants to willingly have to put their furbaby under anesthesia. Speaking as a veterinarian, I can tell you that today’s technology and anesthesia protocols make anesthetic procedures very safe. The small risk of using anesthesia in no way outweighs the benefits to your dog or cat from a proper dental cleaning under anesthesia.

While it may seem like dental cleanings without anesthesia are risk free, that is most definitely not the case. The American Veterinary Dental College does not recommend anesthesia-free dental cleanings and California has made them illegal. This is for good reason. Anesthesia-free dental cleanings are superficial and do not get to the root of why your dog or cat needs a dental cleaning in the first place — periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is painful and often does not have any visible signs until there is so much damage beneath the gum-line that the pet often has bone loss and loses teeth. Anesthesia-free dental procedures have no way of cleaning beneath the gum-line to prevent periodontal disease, nor are they able to look beneath the gum-line to identify problems before they become painful and expensive to treat.

Painful conditions can’t be identified during an anesthesia-free pet dental procedure. It is impossible to do x-rays and adequately examine all surfaces of your pet’s mouth while awake. X-rays and a veterinary oral health exam are crucial in detecting problems early while they are relatively easy and much less expensive to treat.

Anesthesia-free dentals may be less expensive and appear to clean your pet’s teeth, but do not be fooled into a false sense of security. Without x-rays, a thorough oral health exam, and cleaning underneath the gumline, your pet will still suffer from periodontal disease.

Grooming Tip of the Week

All dogs’ ears get dirty at some point, some breeds more than others. Without regular ear cleaning, consistently dirty ears can lead to ear infections. If your dog is not prone to ear infections, then using a veterinary-prescribed ear cleaner every three weeks or having the groomer do it with their regularly scheduled grooming will help prevent your dog from getting an ear infection. For those dogs prone to ear infections, use a veterinary-prescribed ear cleaner once a week. Make sure you always speak with your veterinarian on the proper way to clean your dog’s ears.

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