Powder Paws Veterinary Clinic is pleased to offer dental cleanings both WITH
and WITHOUT the use of anesthesia.

What’s the Difference?

If you assumed that the primary difference is the use or absence of anesthesia, you’ve assumed well. However, you may be wondering about the procedure itself, and how the two approaches differ.

First, you should know that the dental hygienist who performs the anesthesia-free cleaning (a technician from Animal Dental Care) is under the supervision and authority of a licensed veterinarian at our clinic. Often times, opponents of anesthesia-free cleaning will cite that the cleanings performed without anesthesia aren’t the same as the cleanings done under anesthesia, but from our perspective, they use the same techniques.

Your pet’s dental cleaning, under anesthesia or not, will involve scaling of the tooth surfaces and subgingival (under the gum) pockets with piezoelectric ultrasonic scaling equipment, which uses very fast vibration with water to remove buildup. The scaling is followed by a dental polishing. Scaling removes plaque and calculus above and below the gumline, and polishing smooths the surface of the tooth to decrease footholds for future plaque buildup. The teeth and gum properties are then charted and maintained in our records. Our dental hygienists are able to accomplish the above whether your pet is under anesthesia or not.

That being said, we are major proponents of anesthetic teeth cleanings at least every two years for the following reasons:

  1. Dental radiographs (x-rays) are able to be taken, which may reveal underlying gum diseases, tooth defects, or infections.
  2. If any problems with the teeth are noted (abscesses, fractured teeth, root exposures, gum tumors, etc.), corrective actions, including tooth extractions or the use of sealants, are immediate.
  3. A more thorough dental examination is possible, especially in regards to the teeth and gumline on the tongue-side of the mouth.

Therefore, we highly recommend anesthesia-free teeth cleaning for maintaining healthy gums and teeth in between comprehensive anesthetic teeth cleanings.

We offer complimentary dental exams to determine if your pet is a candidate for anesthesia-free cleaning. If they have only mild gingivitis and their teeth are in good shape, they would qualify. If they have any problems that need to be addressed under anesthesia, we would recommend an anesthetic cleaning followed by regular anesthesia-free cleanings for maintenance.

What Would Happen If I Never Cleaned My Pet’s Teeth?

Here’s what we can guarantee if your pet’s teeth were never cleaned, either with at-home care or in our office:

  • Severe gingivitis (gum disease)
  • Abscesses (a complication of tooth decay, when a painful infection develops under the gumline)
  • Rotten teeth falling out (can you imagine a tooth rotting out of your own mouth?)
  • Horrible breath
  • Systemic health effects from periodontal disease (i.e., dental disease effects overall health)

How Do I Know If My Pet Needs a Cleaning?

Chances are, if your pet hasn’t have a dental cleaning in the past year, they could benefit from a thorough dental exam. If you see red gums above the tooth or plaque on the teeth, they need a cleaning.

Let us peek in their mouth for free to decide which type of cleaning they need.

Is Cleaning Without Anesthesia Effective?

Dental cleanings without anesthesia are effective in maintaining dental health between regular anesthetic cleanings, preventing gum disease, and maintaining overall health.

What is the Cost Difference?

Anesthesia-free cleanings are, on average, about half the cost of a base anesthetic cleaning. The more often your pet repeats anesthesia-free cleanings, the less expensive it becomes. Because of the cost of supplies, drugs, and staffing expertise involved in anesthetic cleanings, the cost does not vary based on frequency. Additionally, extractions and tooth repair may be costly, so we feel that prevention is the best policy.

Is Anesthesia Safe For My Pet?

Modern anesthesia is very safe., and we take many measures to ensure its continued safety. We recommend pre-anesthetic blood work that informs our anesthesia protocol. We administer IV fluids during anesthesia to maintain blood pressure, and we have a special heating blanket to keep up your pet’s body temperature. We use an endotracheal tube, and isoflurane gas. During anesthesia, a technician monitors your pet’s heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygenation, temperature, and respiratory rate.