One question that does pop up from time to time is if we absolutely have to use a general anaesthetic to perform dentistry on our pets. In our opinion, the short answer is yes. To ensure the heath and safety of your pet, a general anaesthetic is not negotiable.
I have seen many anaesthesia-free advertisements for dentistry over the last couple of yeas and although it seems like a wonderful idea, lets address what it can actually mean.
If no anaesthesia is being used, often the person performing the work does not have the appropriate training or qualifications. Not only this, lets think about the psychological and physical impacts this is having on your pet.
A thorough dental examination requires your pet to be completely motionless for procedures such as x-rays, probing (using a small metal instrument to detect decay and disease below the visible gum line), removal of rotten or decayed teeth and removal of tartar build up.
Using general anaesthetic in our patients allows us to completely assess your pets mouth with out causing them undue stress with physical restraint and undue pain when a tender spot is touched. When the patient is motionless due to anaesthetic they are also unable to feel pain, therefore; we are able to thoroughly remove any decayed or damaged teeth with out causing pain, quickly and efficiently clean under the gum line, remove tartar build up with out damaging the enamel of the tooth and polish the surface of the tooth to smooth over any defects which in turn protects the enamel.
Anaesthesia free dentistry can potentially mask serious underlying disease and cause your pet unnecessary pain. It is not possible to address gum disease and gingivitis properly whilst the patient is awake which can be detrimental to your pets overall health as infected and damaged gums are the area where bacteria can seed off into other areas such as the heart, lungs and kidneys.
The Australian Veterinary Association also feels strongly enough about this to provide their own guidelines. You can read more about this on the Australian Veterinary Association website.