Pet dental disease, also called periodontal disease, is one of the most common clinical conditions seen by our veterinarians. This comes as no surprise when we consider that most adult dogs and cats show some signs of the disease by the time they reach 3 years of age. If left untreated, pet dental disease can lead to pain, tooth loss, infection, and even damage to the vital organs, such as the heart, liver, and kidneys.
The dental health of our patients is important to us at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center. In recognition of National Pet Dental Health Month, which is observed every February, we’d like to place the spotlight on periodontal disease and what pet owners can do to prevent and treat this serious condition.
We are frequently asked about anesthesia-free pet dental cleanings, which have grown in popularity in recent years. This is the practice of performing a dental cleaning on a pet, which involves scaling (cleaning and scraping) the pet’s teeth to the gumline, without the use of general anesthesia.
The popularity of anesthesia-free dentals is mostly due to marketing campaigns that promote the anesthesia-free method as a less expensive alternative to a dental cleaning that is performed while the pet is under general anesthesia. Unfortunately, it is also based on misinformation regarding what is really involved in cleaning a pet’s teeth. Marketers for anesthesia-free dental cleanings also fail to mention that these dentals often make a pet’s oral problems worse and, in many cases, involve abuse and cruelty.
For pet owners seeking to minimize the number of times a pet has to be “put under” with general anesthesia, the anesthesia-free idea may seem like a great option, but the procedure is wrought with many risks and problems that, in our opinion, outweigh any perception of benefit.