Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleaning

In the San Francisco area, a number of pet supply stores and grooming shops are offering “anesthesia-free” teeth cleaning through an independent contractor. Please beware of these services and review the following risks associated with this procedure before choosing this option for your pet.

Dangers of Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleanings

It is critical to remember that tartar and plaque are not just a cosmetic problem, but often a symptom of disease. In a conscious patient, it is impossible to remove bacterial plaque from below the gum line; however, it is this very bacterium which ultimately leads to bone loss and the destruction of tooth-supporting connective tissue. Because it is impossible to remove this tartar and plaque, anesthesia-free dental cleanings provide only cosmetic improvement and no medical benefits. Any underlying bone loss remains undetected and untreated, allowing for the continued progression of dental disease.

Additional Risks of Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleanings

  • Patient Motion: While your pet is partially restrained during the cleaning, any unanticipated motion can cause serious oral injury; additionally, dental calculus (tartar) can be accidentally inhaled into your pet’s airway, causing severe complications, and even death.
  • Inadequate Evaluation: Imagine your own dental appointments and cleanings.  Can you picture your pet, no matter how friendly and tolerant, allowing that kind or prolonged, flexible access to their teeth? If the person conducting the cleaning cannot see all teeth and dental surfaces clearly, they will not be completely cleaned and evaluated.
  • Misdiagnosis: Inability to perform a complete evaluation of the mouth can lead to misdiagnosis as to the condition of your pet’s oral health. You may believe your pet is healthy after a surface cleaning, but dental disease may still be present.
  • Unknown Accreditation: Individuals performing anesthesia-free dental cleanings are often of unknown training, practicing veterinary medicine without a license. This is illegal and in violation of the Veterinary Practice Act of the State of California. We urge you to please research these individuals before making an appointment for your pet.

Dental Recommendations

Pets Unlimited recommends regular dental examinations and cleanings to ensure your pet’s dental health. At Pets Unlimited, we take every precaution to ensure that every anesthesia procedure we perform is done with the highest standard of care, following a custom tailored anesthesia plan for your pet and using state-of-the-art monitoring equipment to ensure the safety of your pet. In addition, our highly trained team of doctors and veterinary technicians will be present at all times during and after your pet’s procedure. The safety of your pet while in our care is our highest priority.