cleanings is an inefficient procedure for your pet because:
1. They only provide cleaning above the gum line, which
is the least important part of the 12-step procedure.
Dental cleaning leaves a roughened surface on the teeth, which
hastens future calculus formation. Anesthetized patients can have
their teeth polished to a smooth surface.
Most animals have some painful areas in their mouth. These areas
cannot be cleaned well in a non-anesthetized patient.
No diagnostic dental radiographs can be obtained. Most painful
dental conditions will be missed unless dental radiographs are
No diagnosis or treatment can be provided at the time of cleaning.
Owners have a false sense of security that they provided a quality
service for their companion, when in fact inferior care was provided.
Human patients having their teeth cleaned provide total co-operation
to the hygienist for 45 minutes to one hour. On average, a pet's
teeth are much worse when they are cleaned. No pet will hold still
enough for a good cleaning procedure.
Services offering this procedure prey upon the owner's fear of
general anesthesia. Good quality anesthesia rarely causes any
problems for the pet.
has been a recent marketing effort by a company called Canine
Care, Inc., which has been directed at most veterinarians in the
state of Colorado. This company proposes to come to pet grooming
shops or veterinary offices and perform non-anesthetized dental
cleaning procedures, claiming that their "quality and service
compares to human dental hygiene".
it is not possible to provide a quality dental cleaning procedure
in a non-anesthetized patient. There are 12 steps involved in
a dental cleaning procedure. In non-anesthetized patients, you
can partially accomplish just one of the 12 steps (removing calculus
above the gum line), which is the least important part of the
cleaning procedure. Even this step cannot be performed with any
degree of quality in a non-anesthetized patient. Think about the
level of cooperation that you provide your dental hygienist when
your teeth are cleaned. Even though you have no visible calculus,
you cooperate for 45-60 minutes while your teeth are carefully
cleaned and polished. Does anyone really believe that the vast
majority of dogs and cats will allow this level of care?
in mind that the average cleaning for a dog or cat is equivalent
to the treatment a person might receive if they did not brush
their teeth for 3-5 years. If you went to your dentist with a
comparable amount of disease, it would take many hours of professional
care to control your dental problems. It is simply not possible
to perform a quality cleaning on a pet that is awake or only sedated.
dogs and cats over five years of age have at least one painful
tooth in their mouth that is not a "wiggly tooth". Without
a detailed exam and dental radiographs this pathology cannot be
identified. Non-anesthetized dentistry affords no opportunity
to correctly diagnose or treat painful dental pathology. If these
hidden problems are not addressed, the pet continues to suffer
in silence, rarely showing any overt sign of disease that an owner
would associate with dental pathology. Once the problems are corrected,
however, owners usually notice a substantial improvement in their
pet's general demeanor.
cannot be blamed for being fearful of general anesthesia in their
pet. Many of us who have been in practice for a while, have spoken
with owners who have an anesthetic horror story about a pet that
died under anesthesia. There is a wide variety in the quality
of general anesthesia in veterinary practice. The risk of anesthesia
can be reduced to very low levels with pre-anesthetic blood chemistry
screening, IV fluid administration during the procedure, modern
gas anesthesia, judicious selection of anesthetic agents and good
anesthetic monitoring technique. If a veterinarian is uncomfortable
with anesthetizing a higher-risk patient, they should consider
referring the patient to a facility that can better manage the
anesthetic procedure. We are fortunate to have access to Board
certified veterinary anesthesia specialists in our building, and
utilize their services for certain high-risk patients.