|Dear Friend of Pets Unlimited, |
Have you ever found yourself on the wrong end of a toothbrush with an irate cat or petrified pup? If so, you are not alone! The dreaded toothbrush has been the mortal enemy of many of our patients. In fact, we have seen thousands of animals walk through our doors that may have won the battle against the toothbrush, but have ultimately lost the war with their dental health - and that's when we know it's time for a dental cleaning!
In the San Francisco area, a number of companies have been offering "anesthesia-free" teeth cleanings for your pets. As your veterinary provider, we would like to caution you about these services and share the following risks associated with this procedure before you choose this option for your pet. First, it is critical to remember that tartar and plaque are not just a cosmetic problem, but often a symptom of disease. In a conscious patient, it is impossible to remove bacterial plaque from below the gum line; however, it is this very bacterium which ultimately leads to bone loss and the destruction of tooth-supporting connective tissue. Because it is impossible to remove this tartar and plaque, anesthesia-free dental cleanings provide only cosmetic improvement and no medical benefits. Any underlying bone loss remains undetected and untreated, allowing for the continued progression of dental disease.
Additional Risks of Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleanings
- Patient Motion: While your pet is partially restrained during the cleaning, abrupt motion and accidental tartar inhalation can cause serious oral injury, complications and even death.
- Inadequate Evaluation: Imagine your own dental appointments and cleanings. Can you picture your pet, no matter how friendly and tolerant, allowing that kind or prolonged, flexible access to their teeth? If the person conducting the cleaning cannot see all dental surfaces clearly, they will not be adequately evaluated.
- Misdiagnosis: Inability to perform a complete evaluation of the mouth can lead to misdiagnosis of your pet's oral health. You may believe your pet is healthy after a surface cleaning, but dental disease may still be present.
- Tartar Growth: When properly cleaned, tooth enamel is left uniformly polished and smooth. The process of removing tartar during an anesthesia-free cleaning; however, can leave the tooth's enamel still very rough, allowing tartar growth to continue uninhibited.
- Unknown Accreditation: Individuals performing anesthesia-free dental cleanings are often of unknown training, practicing veterinary medicine without a license, which is illegal and in violation of the Veterinary Practice Act.
Our Recommendations Only you can decide what is best for your pet. At Pets Unlimited, we recommend regular dental cleanings and take every precaution to ensure that any anesthesia procedure we perform is done with the highest standard of care, following a custom-tailored anesthesia plan for your pet using state-of-the-art monitoring equipment. If you would like to learn more about a dental cleaning for your pet or get some fun toothbrush tips, email us today!
Dr. Tom Mason