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Anesthesia Free Dentistry for Pets Especially Dogs and Cats…Malpractice?

Anesthesia free dentistry (anesthesia-free) in pets particularly in dogs and cats is unfortunately becoming more common.   This is a very timely and important post meant to benefit pet parents, veterinarians and most of all our pets.

This case is unfortunately a very common problem these days.  In order to avoid general anesthesia, as was the case in this 10 year old dog, the choice was made to to provide regular cleaning without anesthesia.  Although this patient received excellent home care including brushing daily profound disease below the gum line was the disastrous result.   Is anesthesia free dentistry for our pets the right choice?  Please view the pictures of this patient below.  Commentary to follow.

The right maxillary premolars and molars only have minor tartar and relatively no gingivitis

The right maxillary premolars and molars only have minor tartar and relatively no gingivitis

Radiograph of the teeth in the picture above.  The arrows point to dark areas that represent the profound destruction of bone due to periodontal disease.

Radiograph of the teeth in the picture above. The arrows point to dark areas that represent the profound destruction of bone due to periodontal disease.

The right mandible of the patient above shows little tartar or gingivitis

The right mandible of the patient above shows little tartar or gingivitis

The arrows point to black voids in the bone destroyed by periodontal disease.

The arrows point to black voids in the bone destroyed by periodontal disease.

The case above is the rule, not the exception.  Disease below the gum line results from plaque accumulation and years of improper “oral hygeine” in the form of anesthesia free dental cleaning.

This bizarre practice originated in grooming facilities as a service to supplement income despite its negative impact on the patient.  As sad as it seems some veterinary practices have adopted this practice for similar reasons.

Unfortunately it is very harmful for the enamel by creating more of a rough surface for plaque and tartar to accumulate more quickly and in greater volume.  More importantly it does the patient a great injustice by neglecting the only place where periodontal disease is most profound:  below the gum line.

Lawsuits against those performing this service are on the rise.  Anesthesia free dentistry is cosmetic only, hiding the true disease that exists below the gum line.  Seek professional dental care from caring veterinarians who have been properly trained to perform safe dental cleaning, proper oral evaluation, dental probing and x-rays under anesthesia.

The American Veterinary Dental College Position Statement on Companion Animal Dental Scaling Without Anesthesia

Veterinary News Network on Anesthesia Free Dentistry for Pets Dr. Jim Humprhies and Dr. Tony Woodward

Veterinary News Network Article

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