Best Dental Health Requires Anesthesia

Best Dental Health Requires Anesthesia

By Dr. Ed Mapes
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
McKinney, Tx

When someone claims to provide services for pets that don’t actually help animals, I am forced to take issue with those practices. There are two groups of providers claiming to provide dental therapy for pets, but in truth only offer a false sense of security to pet owners.

Pet groomers are charging $15 to $20 for brushing pets’ teeth during grooming appointments. I learned a long time ago that, even in the instance in which pets allow for brushing of the front of teeth, it is impossible to address the back surfaces effectively. I never even recommend brushing paraphernalia to clients because it just can’t protect against tartar and plaque buildup on those back surfaces.

Pet owners are told that groomers’ brushing is effective, leading them to believe that the teeth are free of dental disease when this couldn’t be farther from the truth. I advise all pet owners not to pay for tooth brushing by groomers, and to be aware that if it is done the teeth are by no means made healthier.

Anesthesia-less teeth cleaning is also being marketed as a viable alternative to standard methods of dentistry. While some of these individuals may be able to clean the front surface of teeth, their ability to adequately clean and polish the rear surfaces is highly problematic. Dentistry involves so much more than just scaling and polishing, and other procedures are not possible without the benefit of anesthesia.

Anesthesia provides the analgesia and control of patient movement necessary for professional teeth cleaning and other dental procedures. We are able to thoroughly remove calculus and polish both sides of each tooth, probe the gingival sulcus, remove excessive gum tissue or growths, extract diseased teeth, provide root planning, repair broken teeth, seal the gum line, and a host of other procedures to ensure dental health. This is all a part of veterinary dentistry, and simply cannot be done without the control of anesthesia.

The most important procedure not done without anesthesia, though, is dental radiography. Obtaining radiographs is absolutely impossible without anesthesia, and dentistry is badly compromised without the information provided with these X-rays.

The simple fact is that professional dentistry, with the pet under closely monitored anesthesia and intravenous fluids is a winning proposition for pets. The teeth are managed in a complete and professional manner to provide the greatest health benefit, and the fluids in many cases are needed badly by many animals.

The aging process causes varying degrees of dehydration in dogs, cats, and people alike. Some of our most complex dental procedures are necessary for senior animals, and their health improves for a number of reasons. Painful dental disease is alleviated, systemic antibiotics counter the spread of bacteria from abscessed teeth, and fluid therapy restores the natural homeostasis that is disrupted by losses that occur with age.

Our mission as veterinarians is to provide the best medical care available for our patients and to question those who offer solutions that don’t help animals.

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