Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Are Anesthesia-Free Dentals Worth it?


Recently groomers, pet stores, and even some veterinarian are offering anesthesia-free dental procedures where pets can get their teeth “cleaned”. Is this really better for our pets or can it actually do more harm than good when these procedures are performed?

Anesthesia-free dental procedures are just that. They require no anesthesia and they use a hand scaler to remove the tartar on your pet’s teeth. Is this the best thing we can do for our pets? Or is this just a bandaid on a problem?

They are not the same thing

In reality, this is not the same thing as a sedated dental.  When your pet is under general anesthesia your veterinarian will be able to scale your pet’s teeth and under the gum line. A sedated dental procedure is more than just a cosmetic procedure. They will be able to do a complete oral examination which isn’t always able to be done awake. Any growths, loose teeth or even fractured teeth are able to be evaluated.

It is uncomfortable and can sometimes hurt

When you go to the dentist you can walk out of there with sore gums. Your pet who is currently being physically restrained is having tartar removed more than you most likely have had, which makes the procedure more involved and their gums may be sore. This can even be painful if they have significant dental disease going on.

Is an Anesthesia-free dental worth it?

Sometimes it can be. For the pet who is young and has mild build up, just removing the tartar can provide a cosmetic look to your pet’s teeth. It does not provide a full evaluation.  The other animal that an anesthesia-free dental may be goo on it a pet that recently had a sedated dental procedure and has some mild build up now.

Anesthesia risk

As with any procedure, there is always a risk for anesthesia. In this modern age of medicine, the risks are low and it is better to resolve the dental disease earlier than later on when your pet has significant organ function loss and a tooth root abscess. So while anesthesia is always a concern, it is better to resolve the dental disease properly instead of performing a cosmetic procedure.

Bottom line

Personally, I have seen pets who dental tartar and disease looked very mild. Once I went in and did a full sedated dental procedure it was noted that there was not only significant disease but, gingival recession, pockets and even holes in teeth that can cause significant pain especially if something was performed without sedation. I even have found tumors in mouths during a sedated dental procedure when on an awake animal I could not see due to the animal not cooperating.

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