Friday, September 6, 2013

Veterinary Highlights: AAHA Puts An End To The Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleaning Dilemma?

According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) updated guidelines, anesthesia is necessary for all dental procedures, including cleaning.

New guidelines recommend regular examinations and dental cleanings under general anesthesia for all adult dogs.

These cleanings should take place annually starting at one year for cats and small-breed dogs, and at two years of age for larger-breed dogs.

Anesthesia-free dental cleanings sound like an attractive option. But are they a good choice?

Making teeth look good does not equal keeping them healthy.

There are numerous issues with such cosmetic approach, including your dogs well-being.

Anesthesia with intubation is necessary to remove plaque and tartar from the entire tooth, at least 60 percent of which is under the gum line, AAHA states in the release.

General anesthesia with intubation also facilitates pain-free probing of each tooth and provides the required immobilization necessary to take intraoral dental films. Without anesthesia, a veterinary professional can only partially clean the exposed crown, which is more cosmetic than therapeutic.

Source article:
Anesthesia Mandated for Dental Procedures by Leading Veterinary Organization, AAHA

Further reading:
AAHA Dental Care Guidelines
AAHA mandates dental anesthesia, intubation for accredited veterinary hospitals
Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleaning


  1. That's interesting. I agree that it would be pretty impossible to remove all plaque from a tooth with a pet that was awake. I had a hard enough time reaching some spots and removing plaque in some places even while a dog was asleep. Mostly the very back teeth on the lingual surface.

    1. And that's beside the point that most of the problems brew below the gum line ...

      While the anesthesia-free dentistry does sound attractive, it's one of those things that are too good to be true.