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Is Anesthesia Really Necessary during a Dental Cleaning?

What most owners don’t realize about dental cleaning is that their pet must under-go general anesthesia. Anesthetic risks are sometimes blown out of proportion so many people are hesitant to allow their pet go under general anesthetic for minor procedures such as dental cleanings. Over the past few years there has been a lot of controversy regarding “Anesthesia Free Dentistry” which has been marketed as convenient and inexpensive. Doing dentistry without anesthesia is very dangerous for both the person doing it as well as you pet for an number of reasons.

1. Unlike in human dentistry you can’t sit Fido down and tell him to say “ahhh” and hold his mouth open for you. In order to remove dental tartar ultrasonic power scalers are used as well as hand instruments that must be extremely sharp in order for them to be effective. Even the slightest of head movements could cause serious injury to the oral tissues.

2. Professional Dental scaling includes scaling underneath the gum line. This is the absolute most critical part of dental cleanings as this is where periodontal disease is active. Removal of dental tartar on the visible surfaces of the teeth has only a small impact on your pet’s health and mostly provides a cosmetic effect.

3. The ultrasonic scalers used to remove tartar generate quite a bit of heat due to friction and requires a steady stream of water to keep the tip as well as the tooth cool. Inhalation anesthesia uses a cuffed endotracheal tube which prevents this water from accidentally being aspirated into the airway and lungs.

4. Many animals do not like their mouths being touched or opened. Anesthesia also allows the veterinarian to do a complete oral examination which is not possible in a patient that is awake and moving.
Anesthesia will never be 100% risk free but these risks are minimal compared to the many risks involved in anesthesia free dentistry. As a profession Veterinarians are committed to patient health and safety, if they did not feel it was safe for your pet to undergo general anesthesia they would not recommend it. As always, if you have an questions or concerns and would like to find out more about Dental Cleanings for your pet, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help!

This blog post was written by McQueen Animal Hospital, a veterinary clinic in Brampton providing quality affordable veterinary care

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