Myths and Dangers of Anesthetic-Free Dentistry

By January 28, 2016 Uncategorized

We will sometimes get inquiries regarding anesthetic-free dental cleanings. Do we offer it? Why does my pet have to have a full general anesthetic? Are dental xrays really necessary?

As we all know, all dental procedures require a certain level of pressure on the teeth and gums and may cause pain. When we go to the dentist, we understand that what is happening is a necessary part of the procedure. Animals do not. Therefore anesthesia is essential for providing our furry friends the most comfortable teeth cleaning experience.


If you think of a tooth like an iceberg you will understand that what you see on the surface of the gum is not the entire story. The buildup of tartar goes well under the gumline and could potentially cause issues that cannot be seen without an xray. Unfortunately, pets need to be absolutely still while we do the xray. Our staff cannot stay to hold them due to radiation safely procedures.


When periodontal disease sets in, tissue and bone around the tooth start to deteriorate allowing bacteria to grow and pockets to form. We check for this by probing below the gumline. When awake this could cause discomfort and pain to your pet making it impossible to perform this procedure while awake. If the disease has progressed to the point that the tooth needs to be extracted then it is absolutely necessary to anesthetize.


Just as in humans, we scale and polish your pet’s teeth. At a human dentist, we keep our mouths open for the hygienist to perform this procedure and sometimes it is painful at times. Imagine your dog or cat laying on it’s back keeping it’s mouth open for the entire time? That would make our jobs a whole lot easier!

Anesthetic is not without it’s risks but we take every step to ensure we are providing your pet with the latest, safest anesthetic protocols available. This includes pre-anesthetic blood testing, IV fluids, monitoring with high-tech computer equipment and a staff member present at all times during and after the procedure to ensure proper after care. If there are extractions we provide your pet with “freezing” at the extraction site plus anti-inflammatory medication for pain.

February is dental month at the Richmond Animal Hospital! Please book your pet’s cleaning today and enjoy a special discount as well as specials on dental diets and products.

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