You know this story already: You bring your pet to Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD for a routine check-up. You’re feeding a good diet and your fur-baby is healthy and happy—everything should be smooth sailing, right? Then, while the technician is looking in your pet’s mouth, you hear these words: “It looks like Fluffy would really benefit from a professional cleaning.”
For some pet parents, this can conjure up memories of trips to the dentist, financial concerns, or even fears about anesthesia. So, it’s completely understandable that anesthesia-free dentistry (a new movement in veterinary medicine) sounds so appealing…but is it too good to be true?
There are many benefits to anesthetized oral cleanings. Below, we explore 4 key points to consider when deciding what’s best for your furry friend.
- Oral examinations under anesthesia are more complete and thorough. They include looking
at the palate (roof of the mouth), the throat and tonsils, the tongue and all of the mucous membranes inside the oral cavity. Sometimes this uncovers other concerns, like something lodged in the folds of the palate or a cut. It also allows the health care team to visualize and probe each tooth—are any broken? Missing? Extra? Discolored? Loose? Attempting a full oral exam of an awake pet is impractical and is stressful for him/her.
- The plaque and tartar up under the gumline are far more
unhealthy than the visible buildup on the crown of the teeth. The area where the tooth meets the gums (the gingival sulcus) is where the bacteria that cause periodontal disease live. Cleanings under anesthesia include a thorough scaling and polishing of the subgingival space. Awake pets do not usually allow subgingival cleaning—especially if a tooth is painful.
- Oral cleanings under general anesthesia include full digital dentalradiographs. Two-thirds of every dog or cat tooth is root,
which means it is below the gumline. This allows the veterinarian to see the entire tooth, and can reveal issues like tooth root abscess, root resorption, retained baby teeth, and bone loss. These things can absolutely impact the long-term overall health of a pet! Because of the positioning and the complete stillness needed for good images, it’s impossible to get dental x-rays on an awake pet.
- Cleanings under anesthesia are stress-free to the pet, and are not
uncomfortable for them. Even the best-behaved and most tolerant pet can be worried or stressed by the process of cleaning teeth. From the continual rinsing, to the scraping sensation of the instruments, to the noise of a polisher – it’s a lot of new stimulations, sounds, and sensations. Additionally, pets are often asked to hold their heads or mouths in a certain way for a period of time while the cleaning takes place.
We know that everyone wants what is safest and best for their pets, so we are happy to help provide information so each client can make an informed, educated decision. As always, please ask your veterinarian or technician at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital any questions about oral cleanings and care!