Anesthesia is a scary event for many of us. Many pet owners recognize how important professional dental care is for their furry friend, but get a little antsy about the risk (and cost) involved with full anesthesia.

As opportunities arise for pets to receive dental care in other ways, such as a tooth scaling at the groomer or a non-anesthetic dental service facility, it is no wonder that people are jumping on board. But is it really the best choice? Goldorado Animal Hospital hopes that some more context about non-anesthetic pet dentistry will help you to decide how to best proceed with your pet’s care.

Pros and Cons of Non-Anesthetic Pet Dentistry

It is not hard to understand why anesthesia-free dentals are tempting for pet owners. Anesthesia always carries with it some risk, and the monitoring, equipment, training, and time it takes can add expense.

As an AAHA Accredited veterinary hospital we can assure you that we take anesthesia very seriously. Following the more current guidelines and safest practices our staff ensures that your pet’s anesthetic experience is as risk-free as feasibly possible. This is important, because we stand behind the belief that anesthesia is essential for the best dental care.

There are a few reasons that we need to anesthetize your pet in order to provide a thorough oral examination and dental cleaning:

  • Even the most docile pet doesn’t open wide and say “ahhh”, meaning that we cannot fully evaluate every surface of every tooth effectively in an awake animal.
  • 60% of your pet’s teeth, and potential periodontal disease, are under the gumline. We need to take radiographs and probe carefully in order to evaluate the health of each tooth.
  • If we find a problem that requires extraction or other surgical treatment, we can often address it right then and there without the need for another procedure.

This means that anesthesia-free dental cleanings are often incomplete and can create a false sense of security when it comes to oral health.

Potentially Dangerous Territory

Besides being overall a subpar method of dental care, there are some dangerous aspects of non-anesthetic pet dentistry. Consider the following:

  • Most pets will need to be physically restrained in some manner in order to accomplish the task. This can be dangerous for the pet as well as the person performing the cleaning.
  • Because the status of the tooth roots and surrounding bone cannot be assessed, serious and painful issues may go unrecognized. This leads to unnecessary discomfort as well as potential progression of the problem.
  • Some of the instruments utilized in a dental cleaning are quite sharp. Sudden or unexpected movements by the patient can result in injury.
  • Because pets are not intubated during a non-anesthetic dental cleaning, water and other debris can potentially be aspirated.
  • Because anesthesia is regarded as standard of care by organizations such as the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Dental College, you can assume that those performing anesthesia-free pet dental care are either lay people or people who do not subscribe to the most current recommendations. Is this who you wish to entrust your pet’s care with?

Anesthesia-free pet dental cleanings may sound appealing, however the old adage that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is stands. Our staff takes your pet’s care to heart, and there is a reason that we insist on anesthetic for all dental exams and cleanings. Give us a call today so that we can formulate a dental care plan for your pet that we all can agree on.