Many pet owners are concerned about their pets being anesthetized, despite procedures being safer, less stressful, and less painful with the benefit of anesthesia. Anesthesia-free dental cleanings are performed without the benefit of sedation and pain-control properties that are enjoyed by pets anesthetized for their dental procedures. When a pet is not anesthetized during the dental cleaning, the procedure is incomplete at best, as it provides only a superficial cleaning and does not address disease below the gumline. Unfortunately these procedures are also painful, stressful, and traumatic for your pet. Read on to clear up any confusion you may have about the differences between anesthesia-free and routine dental cleanings

#1: Pets who undergo anesthesia-free dental cleanings do not receive adequate pain control

Have you winced in pain during your own dentist appointment, as your dental technician scraped off a particularly stubborn piece of plaque or probed a tender spot? While many people can tolerate mild discomfort during a routine dentist appointment, your pet is unlikely to appreciate the same poking and prodding. Anesthesia-free dental cleanings do not offer any pain control for your furry pal, which can make them more reluctant to tolerate your home toothbrushing efforts.

#2: Anesthesia-free dental cleanings create significant stress for your pet

Some people are so anxious about visiting the dentist, they opt for anesthesia dentistry to remain totally unaware of their procedure. Consider your pets—they have no clue why a stranger is forcibly restraining them and shining a bright light in their face, or poking their gums with sharp instruments. Most pets become scared and fearful, increasing their anxiety and stress. Placing your pet under anesthesia, with your veterinarian’s trained team, provides for a dental cleaning free from stress and fear, and allows your furry pal to remain unaware while we clean their teeth.   

#3: Using anesthesia during your pet’s dental cleaning is safe and convenient

While anesthetic procedures have some risk, we take multiple steps to ensure your pet’s anesthetic protocol is deemed as safe as possible. We perform pre-anesthetic tests (blood, urine, and X-rays) to evaluate your pet’s health and organ function, followed by intravenous catheter placement to allow rapid medication administration and hydration. Based on your pet’s health status and necessary dental work, we tailor an anesthetic protocol to meet their needs and keep them safe. Anesthetic dental procedures are outpatient procedures, so your pet can go home the same day. 

#4: Anesthesia allows our team to properly evaluate your pet’s teeth

While we would love for your pet to gently bite down on a dental X-ray plate, it is not possible without appropriate sedation needed for full-mouth X-rays. Without dental X-rays, we see only part of your pet’s oral-health. Approximately 60% of each tooth’s structure is hidden below the gumline, making accurate diagnosis and treatment impossible without oral X-rays and deep dental probing. While your pet is under anesthesia, we probe around each tooth, searching for hidden pockets of infection, bone loss, and gum recession, and then take the appropriate steps for treatment. These conditions, which go undiagnosed without dental X-rays, cause significant dental pain for pets. Many pets suffer silently with chronic dental pain, and since they continue to eat, owners assume they have a healthy mouth. Check out this blog, shared by Dr. Man, that will help you understand why pets will suffer silently without appropriate dental care.

#5: Your pet’s teeth can be cleaned better under anesthesia than with anesthesia-free cleanings

Since we know that more than half of the tooth’s surface can lie beneath the gumline, and that anesthesia-free dental cleanings remove only tartar from each tooth’s visible crown, what happens to the rest of the tooth that is hidden? Anesthesia-free dental cleanings falsely give you “peace of mind” when you see sparkly white teeth. Although the teeth “appear clean” the invisible plaque and tartar lurk beneath the gumline, destroying bone, seeding bacteria into your pet’s bloodstream, and harming the heart, liver, and kidneys. With anesthesia, we thoroughly clean above and below the gumline, and remove all traces of infection from your pet’s mouth, without causing pain or fear. 

To clarify things even further, watch Dr. Man’s blog about the misconceived benefit of “anesthesia-free” dental cleanings. 

#6: Anesthesia-free dental cleanings will likely cost more in the long run

Although anesthesia-free dental cleanings may seem more economical at first, they often leave problems hidden beneath the gumline, as they clean only the crown of each tooth. Periodontal disease lurks out of sight, creating pain and dental damage that leads to major issues, if not treated in the early stages. By thoroughly cleaning teeth above and below the gumline during a dental cleaning under anesthesia, your pet’s oral health is prioritized, and costly extractions or restorative treatments are less likely to be needed. In addition to thorough dental care, we perform pre-anesthetic blood work on your pet, which allows us to assess their overall health, and catch subtle changes before problems occur.

#7: Anesthesia-free dental cleanings are often not performed by licensed, trained veterinary professionals

While some veterinarians offer onsite anesthesia-free dental cleanings, this “procedure” is not regulated or approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Since anesthetic drugs are not involved, anyone can purchase dental instruments and clean your pet’s teeth without anesthesia, potentially causing irreversible trauma to their mental and physical health. By scheduling a dental cleaning with Dr. Man, your pet is provided with a stress- and pain-free procedure, aided by an anesthetic protocol devised by a trained, knowledgeable, and licensed veterinary professional. 

We know that nothing but the best will do for your furry family member. That includes dental care, so schedule a dental exam and cleaning with our American Animal Hospital Association-accredited team to ensure your pet receives top-notch treatment.