If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. That is an age old adage that reflects the reality of anesthesia -free dentistry. At first glance, it sounds like an amazing concept. And the price! Wow! Can’t beat that! But before you decide to go this route, please consider the following:
White teeth does not mean a clean and healthy mouth. “At the end of the anesthesia free dental procedure, the outside surfaces of your pet’s teeth may appear visibly whiter. However, there is much more than meets the eye. Because your pet wasn’t under anesthesia, there was no ability to clean beneath the gum line where the bacteria that causes periodontal disease occurs and caused bad breath and extensive damage to tooth roots and supporting bone structure.”[i]
Actual AFD disclosure: “Please understand that a non-anesthetic dental exam and cleaning may not be as thorough as an anesthetic dental exam, cleaning and X-rays, but rather is just one part of a complete dental care plan for your pet. Remember, without an X-ray we cannot see what is going on under the gum line”[ii]. According to Dr. Tony Woodward, veterinary dentist in Colorado Springs, “Owners think they received a valuable service, when in fact they and their pets benefited very little. AFD services overstate the risks of anesthesia and prey on owner’s fear”.[iii]
How does a pet hold still for an AFD? Well, they have to be physically restrained. As you know from your own dental experiences, it is often uncomfortable and scary but you understand why you are there; your pet does not. “While some pets may tolerate restraint better than others, your pet is still being restrained for a lengthy period of time with no ability to understand why or what is happening to them.”[iv]
Anesthesia is a scary thought and there is always a risk whenever it is used. The reality of anesthesia is that it is very safe. Many complications that you may have heard about come from an underlying physical problem, not the anesthesia alone. These problems can be addressed by using pre-anesthetic blood work and monitoring all vitals throughout the procedure. Having an IV catheter allows the administration of fluids and other medications to the patient during the procedure. Using up to date anesthetic protocols is also a must.
Before scheduling an anesthesia free dental, please consult with your veterinarian to help make the best decision for both you and your pet.