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

Brushing your pet’s teeth on a regular schedule is vital to maintaining healthy teeth and gums and preventing periodontal disease. If you only brush your pet’s teeth once in awhile or only have them done when they visit the groomer, your pet is not receiving any benefit from that brushing. Imagine what your child’s teeth would like if you only allowed them to brush their teeth once every three weeks. Not very pleasant I am sure.

The same happens to your pet’s teeth with infrequent or inconsistent brushing. Plaque and tartar build up, causing bacteria to get underneath the gumline resulting in painful, periodontal disease. While regular brushing is the number one recommended preventive dental method, there are dental products that can aid with inconsistent brushing. OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews for dogs is the first and only dental chew that contains Delmopinol that breaks up existing plaque and tartar and forms a protective barrier to block bacteria.

As cats are very picky, I recommend visiting the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s website for a list of veterinarian accepted dental aids, to find the right one for your cat.

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