One of the newest fashion trends out there is the “anesthesia-free dental” services claiming to clean your pet’s teeth “as clean as a dentist”. Make no mistake; it is a ‘fashion’ trend, not a medical procedure. Many people performing this procedure are not medical professionals & have no formal background in veterinary dentistry or medical care. They are not qualified, nor are they legally licensed to be performing procedures on your pet, or making medical assessments and recommendations regarding your pet’s health and well-being. In many instances, most individuals that are performing these procedures have as little as 5 days training, before they can “clean” your pet’s teeth!
With you and your pet’s best interest in mind, we want to make sure that you are making informed decisions, based on medical fact. The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) notes the following: Professional dental cleaning refers to scaling (supragingival & subgingival plaque and calculus removal) and polishing of the teeth with power/hand instrumentation performed by a licensed and trained veterinary health care provider under general anesthesia.
The facts are simple. A proper, medical dental procedure by a licensed veterinarian involves the following:
- Full, thorough oral examination by a licensed veterinarian examining all aspects of the mouth: gingival condition, areas of potential or current disease, tooth structure and health, possible masses or growths. Often included are radiographs to evaluate the entire tooth, bone, and assess any problematic areas that may not be visual on the surface.
- Protection of the airway during the procedure so that fluid or dental calculus is not aspirated into the lungs which can be life-threatening.
- Thorough cleaning via piezoelectric scaler (also used in human dentistry). This specialized equipment allows your veterinary medical professionals to clean not only the crown of the tooth (the part you see), but below the gum-line where most disease hides.
- Proper polishing to remove the micro-abrasions that are left on the tooth surface after dental scaling. If not properly polished, these small grooves in the teeth become an area that bacteria & subsequent disease thrives, leading to new tartar and calculus build-up. A vigorous brushing with a toothbrush is NOT the same as polishing.
- Providing proper antibiotic therapy and pain-management to the patient based on their individual needs and requirements.
We now know how imperative proper oral hygiene is to good general health. Veterinarians, veterinary organizations (such as AVMA, AAHA, & the AVDC) know what a danger this new trend can be and have directly seen the pain and disease animals have suffered as a result of these unregulated practices.
As a veterinary community, it is disheartening to see so many of our wonderful clients taken advantage or and so many patients suffer from not having received adequate medical care because of misinformation given by unqualified individuals. When these facilities charge upwards of $252 per year, we would encourage you to save your funds and utilized them towards a proper, medical cleaning by licensed veterinarians who truly have your pet’s, and your, best interest at heart.