Anaesthesia free dentistry…. a word of warning

Dog- anaesthesia-free dentistry

Ark Vetcare would like to warn pet owners of the health risks posed by lay dental practitioners offering ‘anaesthesia-free dentistry’. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association does not support this practice either.

An increasing number of non-veterinary companies are offering cleaning and scaling on conscious pets, but we are concerned the practice does not provide adequate dental care and can be harmful to the animals.

Anaesthesia-free dentistry involves the fully conscious pet being physically restrained so dental instruments, and sometimes power scalers, can be used to remove calculus from the teeth.

Ark Vetcare gives full consideration and examination

At Ark Vetcare we fully appreciate the concerns people have about their pets undergoing a general anaesthetic. We do everything in our power to minimise the risk. Our vets take a history before considering an anaesthetic. A full clinical examination will be performed including listening to the pet’s heart and lungs. We recommend all pets undergoing anaesthesia to have a blood test to ensure the vital organs which deal with the anaesthetic are able. Our registered veterinary nurses monitor and care for your pet whilst undergoing the procedure.

We feel that the term ‘anaesthesia-free dentistry’ is misleading for pet owners as the procedure is purely cosmetic and fails to identify serious problems such as dental disease. Dental disease is extremely common in pets in South County Dublin. Approximately 80% of pets over the age of 2 will have dental disease. If untreated, it can be painful and lead to chronic health concerns.

Cleaning the visible surface above the gum line makes the teeth look superficially clean but will not detect dental disease present below the gum line, and thus provides no medical benefit.
A veterinary oral health evaluation is vital in detecting problems early while they are relatively easy and thus less expensive to treat.

What lies beneath

Anaesthesia-free dentistry also fails to identify another serious dental condition in pets. Occurring below gum level, periodontal disease is an infection that destroys the periodontal ligament anchoring the tooth to the socket. More infection means deeper probing pockets and bone loss. Removing calculus from the crown of the tooth does not address the site of disease formation and is merely window dressing.

Most lay operators have no animal handling qualifications and are certainly not licensed to diagnose and medicate any pet.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association does not support this practice either.
They may have the best intentions, along with the pet owner to care for the pet’s oral health but anaesthesia-free dentistry is not best practice for the animal.

Who would you prefer to care for your teeth? Your hairdresser? The dentist or the dental hygienist.