Figures 1, 2 and 3 below are photos and dental x-rays from a dog that had received regular non-professional teeth cleaning without anesthesia for many years. When the dog started to have difficulty eating her food the owner suspected that there might be problems that had not been detected. The dog needed close to 2 dozen teeth extracted because of advanced, severe periodontal disease. This is a prime example of how non-professional teeth scaling can allow severe dental problems to go untreated, leaving the patient in pain. We see many patients with similar stories. Note that the teeth appear “clean” and none were mobile.
Dental Cleaning in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital
Did you know that 80% of middle age dogs and cats have some level of dental disease? Dental disease is very common and its severity can vary widely among breeds and age groups of dogs and cats. At home dental care such as brushing, oral rinses, and chews can help greatly. Most dogs and cats will still need dental cleanings in their life. We have a separate dental suite equipped to tackle all of your animal dentistry needs. We have what it takes to handle anything from routine ultrasonic scaling and polishing of the teeth to oral surgery and extractions. Routine pet dental cleanings involve gas anesthesia, ultrasonic scaling, polishing, and fluoride application. Gas anesthesia is necessary to successfully clean under the gum line, assess the integrity of each tooth on the oral exam, and for the safety of your pet and the staff. All the standard precautions are taken before we provide dental care to any animal, including pre-anesthesia lab work, anesthesia risk scoring, and tailored anesthetic protocols.
How much pressure should be used when scraping/scaling
Animals usually do not receive the same level of at-home dental hygiene (brushing and flossing) we do, and as a result, adult pets often have established periodontal disease. In some of these pets, especially older pets, periodontal disease has progressed beyond its early or mild stages (gingivitis). The moderate and severe stages of periodontal disease traditionally require various therapies (periodontal and oral surgery) in addition to dental scaling. When scaling is used as a standalone treatment to address all stages of periodontal disease, especially when used as a monotherapy for the treatment of severe periodontal disease, it is purely cosmetic and non-therapeutic.
Pet owners naturally are concerned when anesthesia is required for their pet. However, performing dental scaling on an unanesthetized pet is inappropriate for the following reasons:
1. Dental tartar is firmly adhered to the surface of the teeth. Scaling to remove tartar is accomplished using ultrasonic and sonic power scalers, plus hand instruments that must have a sharp working edge to be used effectively. Even slight head movement by the patient could result in injury to the oral tissues of the patient, and the operator may be bitten when the patient reacts.
2. Professional dental scaling includes scaling the surfaces of the teeth both above and below the gingival margin (gum line), followed by dental polishing. The most critical part of a dental scaling procedure is scaling the tooth surfaces that are within the gingival pocket (the subgingival space between the gum and the root), where periodontal disease is active. Because the patient cooperates, dental scaling of human teeth performed by a professional trained in the procedures can be completed successfully without anesthesia. However, access to the subgingival area of every tooth is impossible in an unanesthetized canine or feline patient. Removal of dental tartar on the visible surfaces of the teeth has little effect on a pet’s health, and provides a false sense of accomplishment. The effect is purely cosmetic.
3. Inhalation anesthesia using a cuffed endotracheal tube provides three important advantages – the cooperation of the patient with a procedure it does not understand, elimination of pain resulting from examination and treatment of affected dental tissues during the procedure, and protection of the airway and lungs from accidental aspiration. The American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia (ACVAA) recommends general anesthesia with endotracheal tube intubation for all dental cleanings in dogs and cats .
4. A complete oral examination, which is an important part of a professional dental scaling procedure, is not possible in an unanesthetized patient. The surfaces of the teeth facing the tongue cannot be examined, and areas of disease and discomfort are likely to be missed.
Anesthesia Free Pet Dental Cleaning & Teeth Scaling - My Pet Dentist