Anesthesia-Free Cleaning for Pets

Anesthesia-Free Cleaning for Pets

Anesthesia-free dentistry, known as Non-Professional Dental Scaling (NPDS), is an ongoing topic of discussion as a service provided to well-intentioned pet owners who may be worried about anesthesia or feel they may not be able to afford professional veterinary dental care. Most pet parents know that good oral care is important for their pets, so this becomes an attractive option. Unfortunately, anesthesia-free cleanings are procedures that address only the parts of your pet’s teeth you can see and have harmful consequences you can’t see.

The American Veterinary Dental CollegeTM’s (AVDC) position is that anesthesia-free dentistry is not appropriate for companion pets. A significant reason is that scraping teeth in a mouth full of blood vessels can launch oral bacteria into the bloodstream. If inhaled, that aerosolized bacteria can lead to pneumonia. Once bacteria are in the bloodstream, they can infect other organs like the heart, liver and kidneys. A dental cleaning under anesthesia allows for protection of a pet’s airway with endotracheal intubation and packing of the back of the mouth to minimize contamination. Airway protection is not possible with a NPDS.

Another concern is that NPDS can give pet owners a false sense of security about the state of their dog’s or cat’s oral health. Even though the areas of your pet’s teeth you can see may look clean after an anesthesia-free dental procedure, what you can’t see is actually far more important.

Roughly 30% of dental disease in dogs and 40% of dental disease in cats can only be seen utilizing radiographs. Human dentists take x-rays at every annual checkup to identify cavities and other pathology. Pets are no different.

Problems like tartar buildup below the gum line and gingivitis aren’t addressed during a procedure that only scrapes and polishes the teeth. Most oral disease happens below the visible surfaces of your dog’s or cat’s mouth.

Those purporting the benefits of NPDS are acting out of a belief they are doing more good than harm. Unfortunately, in most cases the opposite is true. Teeth that could have been saved if an infection could have been caught by a dental x-ray earlier, might be too far gone to save later.

Over the years we have treated countless cases of dogs who have had previous NPDS annually for numerous years, only to have multiple abscessed teeth discovered at the time of an oral examination and dental radiographs while under anesthesia.

We understand the concerns of a pet owner when their pet is anesthetized and the stress this may cause them. However, NPDS procedures cause far more risk to the overall health of a pet than a safely performed anesthetic procedure ever will.

Because proper pet dental care is so important, Animal Dental Care offers a package rate dog or cat dental cleaning with a cost savings that will make a veterinary dental cleaning more affordable for pet owners.

Pet owners can now learn more about Anesthesia Free Dental Cleanings from the AVDC:

  • Visit for excellent resources for pet owners to learn the facts about this procedure and to make an informed choice about their pet’s dental health.

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