Why anesthesia is necessary when cleaning a dog’s teeth

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webmaster | 07/26/12

DEAR ANDRE: I’ve been seeing some advertisements for anesthesia-free dental cleaning for pets. My veterinarian recommends that my 10-year-old dog Queenie has her teeth cleaned under anesthesia, but I’m afraid that Queenie is too old to be put under. My vet also quoted me a price much higher than the advertisement I saw. What is your opinion on this? — Sincerely, Roberta from Madera

DEAR ROBERTA: We’ve been getting questions like yours a lot lately. Thanks for bringing up this very important topic. You may not know that by the age of three, most dogs and cats have some degree of periodontal disease, and most pet owners would not know how to recognize it, except for bad breath. This is why it is so important to start brushing your pet’s teeth at home every day.

Unfortunately, many owners do not start brushing before dental disease has progressed, so a thorough professional dental assessment and cleaning must be performed. If a pet is awake, it is impossible to do a good job, and I’ll explain why.

Dental tartar and calculus is firmly adhered to the surface of the tooth. More importantly, tartar will build up under the gum line, allowing bacteria to multiply and cause serious gingival infections. The only way to remove this tartar thoroughly is to use an ultrasonic power scaler that can go below the gum line. Once the tartar and calculus have been removed, the tooth can then be polished to help decrease the adherence of new tartar and bacteria (although it won’t last unless you brush regularly). No dog or cat will allow this to be done in an awake state. And pets do not show their dental pain, so don’t assume they are not in pain just because they appear to be eating normally...

 

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