What lack of dental care means for your pet:
- Severe gingivitis (gum disease)
- Abscesses (a complication of tooth decay, when a painful infection develops under the gumline)
- Rotten teeth falling out (can you imagine a tooth rotting out of your own mouth?)
- Horrible breath
- Systemic health effects from periodontal disease (i.e., dental disease effects overall health)
Animals, unlike people, need anesthesia in order to have their teeth professional cleaned, or to have dental procedures. Some pet parents can be apprehensive about their pet going under anesthesia. It is for this reason that “anesthesia free” dentals are becoming popular. Unfortunately, these methods aren’t effective at addressing your pet’s dental health, and in some cases may actually be more dangerous than general anesthesia.
When carried out correctly, general anesthesia is safer for your pet’s dental procedure than sedation or even being awake. Modern anesthesia is very safe, and we take many measures to ensure its continued safety. We recommend pre-anesthetic blood work. We also administer IV fluids during anesthesia to maintain blood pressure, and have a special heating blanket to maintain your pet’s body temperature. During anesthesia, a technician monitors your pet’s heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygenation, temperature, and respiratory rate.
During a dental cleaning your pets’ teeth are “scaled” using an ultrasonic dental instrument. This instrument sprays water. When your pet is under anesthesia their airway is protected from water, saliva, dental tartar, and blood by an endotracheal tube. This tube delivers oxygen and anesthetic gas while your pet is unconscious. It has a cuff towards the end of it that protects your pet’s airway by making a snug fit with their trachea. This prevents fluids and tartar from being inhaled into its lungs.
Sedation can be even more dangerous, because their reflex to swallow may be diminished from the sedation. Your pet’s teeth have to be scaled by hand (using a simple instrument to scrape the tartar). If done incorrectly, this can damage the surface of your pet’s teeth. General anesthesia allows us to thoroughly examine your pet’s mouth, teeth and gums. It also allows us to take x rays and perform tooth extractions if needed. The level, or depth, of anesthesia can be adjusted minute to minute with a dial that controls the amount of anesthetic gas your pets receive. Sedation on the other hand, is not as easily controlled. Your pet is also not receiving high levels of oxygen while under sedation.
Anesthesia free dentistry is where no sedation or anesthesia is given to your pet. A thorough oral exam, extractions, or dental x-rays can NOT be performed. With a pet awake, it is impossible to thoroughly scale the inside and back surfaces of the teeth. There is also a risk of it inhaling a piece of tartar. The teeth may look ‘cleaner’, but little has been done to professionally address your pet’s teeth. Tartar (along with bacteria) will be left behind, and your pet may still have bad breath.
If you would like us to evaluate your pet, and have a cursory dental exam please contact us today.