As the end of National Dental Health Month draws to a near I want to discuss a controversial issue. Why do we need to anesthetize patients for dental cleanings? There is a group of individuals that exploit fears of anesthesia and are promoting anesthesia free dentistry. In actuality, performing a dental cleaning without anesthesia is not effective and also potentially dangerous.
Many of these procedures are performed by nonprofessional or individuals who go through courses that offer insufficient training. Unlike humans, awake animals move and can bite injuring themselves or the individual performing the procedure. Manually scaling the teeth and not polishing afterwards actually roughens the surface of the teeth and leads to much faster disease reoccurrence.
An effective cleaning is an involved process. Cleaning above and below the gum line with an ultrasonic cleaner is followed by polishing all tooth surfaces. Periodontal probing to look for deep pockets along with charting which teeth are missing or fractured along with any abnormalities involving each individual tooth. Dental radiographs are also imperative to be able to see 70% of the tooth that is not visible.
Dental cleanings done without anesthesia only involves cleaning the tooth above the gum line and does not include the underside of the teeth or teeth that are further back in the mouth. There is a false sense of improvement because the crown of the tooth appears clean. The American Veterinary Dental College has drafted a position statement against this procedure. Additionally, in some states this may be illegal unless performed under the supervision of a veterinarian.
Please e-mail me with your questions at ACoffin@aol.com and put “Ask Dr. Anna” in the subject line or mail your questions to 123 West Harrison Guthrie, OK 73044.