You might have heard about anesthesia free dental cleanings at a local pet store, by word of mouth, or even from some veterinarians. Although this may seem like a great option for your pet, is it important to understand the risk and limitations of the procedure.
What happens during an anesthesia free dental?
While your pet is awake, the surface of the teeth are scaled (scraping with an instrument) to remove plaque. The sharp metal instrument leaves tiny grooves and a rough surface on your pet’s teeth, providing a perfect environment for adherence of more bacteria. This is usually prevented by polishing after scaling, however, polishing is rarely performed during an anesthesia free dental.
Without anesthesia, your pet must be physically restrained in order to remove plaque from the teeth. While some pets may tolerate restraint better than others, this can still be an uncomfortable and stressful event for the animal.
Will an anesthesia free dental help to prevent periodontal disease?
No. Anesthesia free dentals have no way of removing bacteria below the gumline where periodontal disease occurs. There is also no way to look below the gumline to identify problems before they become painful or expensive to treat. It is not possible to perform a thorough oral exam or dental radiographs during an anesthesia free dental. Whiter teeth after the procedure can create a false sense of security that your pet’s mouth is clean and healthy, leaving periodontal disease undetected and untreated. In order to truly prevent and detect periodontal disease, dental cleanings must be performed under anesthesia.
For more information about periodontal disease and the American Veterinary Dental College’s stance on anesthesia free dentals visit http://avdc.org/AFD/category/facts/
Dr. Lauren Vezzosi