Our Take On:
Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleanings
When Dr. Sivula recommends a dental cleaning, many clients are concerned about anesthesia risks - particularly with senior pets. In some cases, they've been advised that mild dental disease doesn't require a full dental cleaning and sufficient results can be achieved through an anesthesia-free or "standing" dental. The fee for this type of procedure is generally lower, making it a very appealing alternative for pet owners. Unfortunately, "standing" dentals are far from complete - and can even be dangerous.
Not all surfaces of the tooth are cleaned.
In order for a dental to be beneficial, it must include a total removal of all plaque and tartar. This includes the inside surface of the tooth and the spaces between teeth, as well as along and just below the gum line. It is highly unlikely that this can be achieved without sedation or anesthesia. During "standing" dentals, only the visible portions of the teeth are cleaned, giving you a false sense of security when it comes to your pet's oral health.
A thorough dental exam is impossible.
A complete investigation of the mouth is essential when it comes to assessing the status of your pet's oral health. Without this exam, subtle problems can go undetected until they become serious and more difficult to treat. A comprehensive evaluation of the teeth and gums is simply not possible on a pet who is conscious.
The teeth are not polished.
Dental scaling and removal of plaque and tartar are only half of a dental cleaning; an important step includes a polish to smooth the tooth surface. "Standing" dentals often scratch the tooth surface, and these grooves leave the tooth even more plaque-retentive than before.
There is a significant risk for injury.
Removing plaque and tartar from a pet's teeth requires highly specialized dental tools which often have sharp edges. It's perfectly natural for a cat or dog to wiggle and jerk while being restrained, and this can easily lead to damage of the delicate gums, cheek and tongue.
They impact the success of home care.
A "standing" dental can be very uncomfortable for a pet, making them head-shy or even resistant to having their teeth examined and treated. This can make home care programs like tooth brushing much more difficult to implement.
How Traditional Dentals Have Changed
Without a doubt, there is risk associated with any procedure; however, advancements have been made in anesthesia and monitoring in veterinary medicine, making dental cleanings safer than ever.
Forgoing Dental Cleanings
Regular dentals are about more than white teeth and fresh breath; there is serious risk associated with leaving dental disease untreated.
There are significant chances that your pet will develop infections, or become painful.
Copious tartar and gum inflammation are a constant source of bacteria, which is released into the blood stream. This puts a heavy burden on vital organs like the heart, liver and kidneys, and can put your pet at serious risks for developing secondary diseases.
Putting off a dental cleaning until it is emergent complicates both the procedure and the recovery, and just isn't worth the gamble with your pet's health and comfort.