Educational Blog

The Truth About Anesthetic-Free Dentistry

We wanted to share with you an article recently written by Dr. Fraser Hale of Hale Veterinary Clinic:

“We are being misled by unlicensed laypeople who dupe the public into thinking that non-professional dental scaling is the equivalent of Veterinary Dentistry, without the risk of anesthesia, and that scraping the teeth with a hand scaler by a lay-person is safer and just as good as veterinary dentistry. That is the perception that many of my clients have. These companies operate in the back rooms of pet stores, feed stores, and grooming parlors, with no premises license and no premises inspection, and the groomers and pet stores are happy for the extra income, but they do NOTHING that benefits the health of the pet! The teeth look good but can be very diseased.

An “anesthetic-free dental” is the equivalent of giving a child a clean cup to drink from a dirty well, or taking your car to the car wash instead of the mechanic when it needs a tune-up. It does nothing for the patient (Meaning there are ZERO health benefits to non-professional dental scaling) and in fact, can cause harm and pain for no reason other than cosmetics. When I perform dentistry, the animal feels no pain or fear, I take every safety precaution, and I can remove calculus safely and without pain. I can do local nerve blocks to ensure a pain-free procedure, and I can take intra-oral X-rays to look for bone loss and root abscesses, none of which are possible with NPDS.

Do you realize that scaling the teeth when there is a cavity, root exposure, fracture or gum infection present is excruciatingly painful to the animal? Just because the animal tolerates it (because you are forcibly restraining the animal) does not mean it isn’t painful! Dogs trust us, and we should not abuse that trust to inflict possible pain for cosmetic purposes only. Have you ever realized that NPDS is only done on dogs, and not on cats? My facility is clean, licensed and inspected, and the Veterinary Medical Board has the right to take away my license and livelihood should I be found to practice below the standard of care. The NPDS people have no license, no education or oversight, and nothing to hold them to any professional standard. They risk NOTHING doing what they do hiding in the back rooms of grooming parlors, and they are giving clients a false sense of security. Clients believe that they are doing something medically beneficial, something the equivalent of veterinary dentistry, when in fact they are doing nothing that benefits the animal at all. It is a known fact that a leading cause of aging and premature death is periodontal disease, and a Non-Professional Dental Scaling lulls the pet owner into a false sense of security. Pet owners believe NPDS is medically beneficial, when in fact, it is purely a cosmetic procedure, with zero medical benefits.

These companies frequently contact veterinarians, with promises of financial rewards, if they will allow NPDS in our hospitals. Doing so constitutes tacit approval of the procedure, and provides the appearance that it is the near equivalent of actual veterinary dentistry, called COHAT (Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment.) I refuse to allow such procedures performed in my hospital. I took an oath when I joined the ranks of veterinarians to above all, do no harm and I believe NPDS constitutes cruelty and malpractice and is a violation of the Veterinary Oath.”

If you have any remaining questions on the dangers of non-anesthetic dentistry, or want to know more about the benefits of veterinary dentistry for your pet, please contact us today! You can submit our online form at anytime, or call us during business hours at 916-684-6854. We look forward to hearing from you!

Figure 1. A periodontal probe is placed into an area of severe bone loss. The patient had recently had AFD performed and the teeth appear to be clean. None of these teeth were mobile.

Figure 2. Dental radiograph of the area pictured above. These teeth had minimal or no mobility despite loss of most of the supporting bone. The patient has been in pain for years.

Figure 3. Dental radiograph of the same patient, showing large areas of bone loss and multiple abscessed molars that had been missed during the recent AFD cleaning procedure. Changes like these take years to occur.

Pictures: Veterinary Dentistry Newsletter, Tony Woodward, DVM, AVDC. November 2012

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