May 17, 2018 "Anesthetic Free" Dentistry

Hello everyone! In this area I plan to write articles pertaining to dentistry for dogs and cats. I'll start with probably the most controversial topic. Anesthetic free dentistry.

I became aware of this topic a few years ago and have been watching the legal ramifications for a wile. The legal challenge seems to have been successful as long as the service is billed as "cosmetic dentistry."

Why is this such a concern?

The most important health aspect of dental disease is the infection under the gum line. When a dental cleaning is performed without anesthetic, it is quite impossible to perform sub-gingival curettage, that is scraping away the tartar and infection from in the gum pockets. As this is the most important aspect of dental care, the medical benefit of the procedure is lost. Yes it is nice to have hollywood pearly whites, but the gum infection continues to be a significant concern. Whenever the infection below the gum-line is left untreated, the infection continues to progress. If any of these bacteria are released into the bloodstream during a cleaning procedure, there is a chance of that causing an infection elsewhere in the body. Especially if there is a heart murmur, the infection can settle on the valves of the heart. A proper veterinary assessment and appropriate use of antibiotics at the time of the cleaning is essential.

Additional concerns

When the dental assessment is not done by a qualified veterinary professional with dental knowledge, many dental diseases could be missed. Crowded teeth, broken teeth, deep gum pockets, and assessments of the alignment of the teeth all require a thorough examination of the mouth and usually requires at least a deep sedation as probing in inflamed gum pockets hurts a lot! Many dental problems cannot be diagnosed without the benefit of a dental X-ray as well.  Dog enamel is somewhat sensitive to scratches from the cleaning procedure. If these scratches are not polished away, the surface of the tooth is left with cracks that more readily accumulate plaque and calculus in the future. Without sedation or anesthesia, many dogs will not tolerate the ultrasonic scaling or polishing after the cleaning.

Healthy Gums are the Goal

Despite the cosmetic nature of white teeth, it really is all about the gums. Without deep cleaning of these gum pockets and appropriate and ongoing home care of the teeth, the gums will progress through the stages of gum disease, resulting in recession and ultimately tooth loss. Early diagnosis and treatment of gum infection can prevent both serious health complications as well as preserve the teeth. Trust your veterinarian to diagnose and treat your pet's oral health. Anything less than that has some potentially serious negative results.