When you visit your local grooming facility with your furry pal, you may notice a sign advertising anesthesia-free dental cleanings. Intrigued about your pet’s teeth being cleaned without your pet undergoing anesthesia, you take note of the number, intending to make an appointment. But, before you sign your pet up for a procedure that is the equivalent of washing a car without checking under the hood, learn the do’s and don’ts associated with anesthesia-free dental cleanings. 

#1: Don’t skip on pain medication for your pet’s dental cleaning

When you’ve undergone your biannual dental cleaning, have you ever jerked in discomfort as a sharp instrument scraped too close to your sensitive gums? While you understand a mild amount of pain may be part of a routine dental cleaning, your pet has no idea what is happening when someone pokes a dental tool into their mouth, probing and prodding along their gumline. During a dental cleaning without anesthesia, your pet receives zero pain medication. Without local dental blocks or the pain medication component of a well-rounded anesthetic protocol, your pet will feel every prick of the dental instruments and, if the person cleaning their teeth stumbles across an abscess, tooth fracture, or resorptive lesion, your pet can experience substantial pain.

#2: Don’t stress your pet needlessly with anesthesia-free dental cleanings

With an anesthetic-free dental cleaning, your pet will not only receive no pain relief, but also will not be sedated to alleviate their stress. Under general anesthesia, your pet is fully unconscious, blissfully unaware of what’s occurring inside their mouth. Without anesthesia, your pet will be fully aware of every poke and prod performed by a stranger. Many pets are uncomfortable when strangers handle their head, and more so if they are forcibly restrained, with their mouth held open for an unpleasant procedure. Eliminate your pet’s stress completely through general anesthesia, and return home with a happy pet with a thoroughly clean mouth.

#3: Don’t forgo full-mouth dental X-rays for your pet

When your pet undergoes an anesthesia-free dental cleaning, no dental X-rays are taken. But, without full-mouth dental X-rays, how do you know what’s lurking below the gumline? Digital dental X-ray plates cannot withstand the force of a pet’s bite, making X-rays on an awake patient too difficult. Tooth-root abscesses, jawbone loss, tooth fractures, impacted teeth, bony masses, and tooth decay can be impossible to detect without the aid of dental X-rays, leaving your pet to suffer until they receive a comprehensive dental procedure under general anesthesia. And, if the person performing your pet’s anesthesia-free dental cleaning discovers a problem, such as a fractured tooth or resorptive lesion, they do not have the tools or skills to treat the problem, causing your pet more pain until the matter can be professionally resolved. 

#4: Don’t clean only the crown of your pet’s teeth

Did you know that as much as 60% of your pet’s tooth structure lies below the gumline? You may think the hidden part of the tooth is protected from oral bacteria and disease, but that is not the case. In fact, bacteria from plaque and tartar are masters at infiltrating tiny gaps in gingival tissue, seeding infection at the tooth roots, and causing abscesses, bone loss, decay, and tooth loss.

During an anesthesia-free dental cleaning, sharp instruments are used to scrape away plaque and tartar from only the visible portion of the tooth. Most pets do not appreciate this sensation, and trying to clean below the gumline will end in injury, for both the pet and the person performing the procedure. During a dental cleaning under general anesthesia, we can safely clean your pet’s teeth above and below the gumline, removing all traces of bacteria, rather than allowing hidden infection pockets to linger under the gums. Additionally, your pet will not feel any pain or distress while we deep clean their teeth, because our multimodal anesthetic protocol will remove every ounce of their discomfort.

Anesthesia-free dental cleaning do’s

We’re kidding. We believe there are no do’s when it comes to anesthesia-free dental cleanings in pets. But, always discuss your dental-cleaning concerns with your Animal Dental Clinic veterinarian before deciding whether to put your pet through the unnecessary stress and risk of an anesthesia-free dental cleaning, or schedule a veterinary cleaning with anesthesia. Contact our team to schedule an oral exam and consultation for your pet.