Dental Scaling Without Anesthesia or Non-Professional Dental Scaling
You have probably heard that you can have your pet’s teeth cleaned without anesthesia at the groomer or other facilities. While not having to put your pet under anesthesia sounds appealing; there are a number of reasons this is not a good idea. The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) lists the following reasons:
1. Dental tartar is firmly adhered to the surface of the teeth. Scaling to remove tartar is accomplished using ultrasonic and sonic power scalers, plus hand instruments that must have a sharp working edge to be used effectively. Even slight head movement by the patient could result in injury to the oral tissues of the patient, and the operator may be bitten when the patient reacts.
2. Professional dental scaling includes scaling the surfaces of the teeth both above and below the gingival margin (gum line), followed by dental polishing. The most critical part of a dental scaling procedure is scaling the tooth surfaces that are within the gingival pocket (the subgingival space between the gum and the root), where periodontal disease is active. Because the patient cooperates, dental scaling of human teeth performed by a professional trained in the procedures can be completed successfully without anesthesia. However, access to the subgingival area of every tooth is impossible in an unanesthetized canine or feline patient. Removal of dental tartar on the visible surfaces of the teeth has little effect on a pet’s health, and provides a false sense of accomplishment. The effect is purely cosmetic.
3. Inhalation anesthesia using a cuffed endotracheal tube provides three important advantages… the cooperation of the patient with a procedure it does not understand, elimination of pain resulting from examination and treatment of affected dental tissues during the procedure, and protection of the airway and lungs from accidental aspiration.
4. A complete oral examination, which is an important part of a professional dental scaling procedure, is not possible in an unanesthetized patient. The surfaces of the teeth facing the tongue cannot be examined, and areas of disease and discomfort are likely to be missed.
Here at Brookville Veterinary Hospital we make every effort to ensure that your pet is as safe as possible while under anesthesia. Because of this, we highly encourage pre-anesthetic blood testing. This blood testing is a window into the body that tells us things doctor cannot tell from physical examination alone, such as whether there are liver or kidney problems, any anemia or infection and whether your pet has diabetes. In addition, all patients have an intra-venous (IV) catheter placed and if needed patients receive fluid therapy to aid in maintaining blood pressure and internal organ function during anesthesia. Also, a qualified team member is monitoring your pet while under anesthesia and during the recovery period.
For more information visit http://avdc.org/Dental_Scaling_Without_Anesthesia.pdf
A Case Study
This patient has been regularly having its teeth scaled at the groomer, most recently three weeks prior to its visit here. The owner reported that the dog had seemed painful during the last “cleaning” at the groomer and so they had to stop and not finish the procedure.
Dental Radiographs revealed significant bone loss surrounding some of the teeth. These teeth were also mobile and were extracted.
Most pets do very well after dental procedures, even those involving extractions. In addition to local nerve blocks, we sent home oral pain medications and changing to a soft food for a few days to help with any discomfort. Because of the severe infection from periodontal disease antibiotics were also sent home.