Considering non-anesthetic dental cleaning for your pet?

During this non-anesthetic procedure being performed, absolutely NO anesthesia is used on Maddie. (Image: Lisa Speaker.)
During this non-anesthetic procedure being performed, absolutely NO anesthesia is used on Maddie. (Image: Lisa Speaker.)

Edited and contributed by Lisa Speaker

A non-anesthetic cleaning may be appropriate for younger pets or if they have a mild tartar build-up, such as stage 1 or 2 gingivitis (which is reversible). The difference between non-anesthetic cleaning, and anesthetic cleaning, is that the animal is under anesthesia during the anesthetic procedure. This is done under the discretion of the veterinarian and is sometimes done periodically, to obtain a baseline using radiographs, or if the gums have been medically compromised.

When a non-anesthetic procedure is performed, absolutely NO anesthesia is used, and gentle restraining methods are employed on the animal during the cleaning. The veterinarian, or trained technician under the vet’s supervision, will make every effort to remove all the tartar build-up, but it may be impossible to completely remove all the tartar, as the animal is awake. Also, it is important to discern at an early stage if your pet is predisposed to periodontal disease, in which case a professional outpatient preventive dental (POPD) procedure may be more appropriate.

Below are some questions that Dr. Turie Norman, of  Well Animal Institute recommends customers may want to ask of the anesthesia-free cleaning provider, as not all services are the same:

How long will it take? You can’t do a thorough cleaning in less than 30 minutes for 98% of dogs. Will I receive a report card? Ask to see the record: If the teeth cleaner is not charting the mouth and reporting what they see, then how will the owner know if the dog/cat has any issues? At Well Animal Institute we chart the mouth, recording any areas of gum disease or tooth problems. We council our customers on follow up care at home or with their veterinarian. We customize each treatment of care for each individual. Does the veterinarian check the mouth before and after the cleaning? In the state of Colorado a veterinarian must be on the premises during a cleaning; we at WAI go the extra mile and our veterinarians inspect each mouth, guiding, helping and training our technicians to chart the mouths accurately.”

Cindy Lloyd, also from Well Animal Institute adds, “Plaque begins right after a dental cleaning and it does not make any difference which method you choose. This should not be the cheaper choice, but rather go along with dental from your vet. We see a lot of dogs that range from having a lot, to very little, tartar build-up. It’s great to be able to remove it without anesthesia. Why would you want to put them under if you don’t have to? We also do a fair number of cats. We have been doing dental’s this way for almost 10 years, and we occasionally find problems like abscesses and broken teeth and send the animal back to their veterinarian to care for them. It’s about having an over-all care plan for the health of your teeth just like you do for yourself.”

Visit the NPDA (National Pet Dental Association) for more information on Guidelines for Practicing a Non-Anesthetic Dental Procedure.

RMSAAM would like to thank Dr. Turie Norman, DVM, and Cindy Lloyd for contributing the information gathered in this article.  For more information on Anesthesia-free Dental Cleaning, or to learn more about Dr. Turie and Cindy, please visit their website by clicking here.