Why Do We Use Anesthetic For Dental Procedures?

This is a question we get asked a lot – why does my pet need to be asleep for dental procedures?”

Here are some reasons why:

  • Common sense would indicate that unlike humans we simply cannot reason with and ask your pet to hold their mouths open for long periods of time
  • Safety of the Technician and Veterinarian who are doing the procedure – even the sweetest, calmest pet WILL bite if they are in pain or just plain irritated with having being poked and prodded for an extended period of time.
  • X-rays: X-rays are an important part of any dental procedure. Remember that the tooth is like an iceberg – you only see a small part of the tooth that’s above the gum line, whereas, the roots are below and this is often where dental problems arise. It is much easier to perform a dental x-ray on your pet once we have them safely under anesthetic. Another small factor when it comes to dental x-rays is that the equipment used is very high end. The films and probes that are placed into the mouth are delicate so one chomp can cost a clinic an extensive amount of money which means we would not be able to afford to give each patient the level of care we strive for.
  • Probing: Just like with humans, the teeth need to be probed to see if any pockets are present around the teeth. If an infection was present and your pet was awake for this procedure s/he would experience pain and discomfort causing him/her to bite down on the probe which not only is bad for the teeth but also the probe!
  • Scaling: Scaling is a SUPER important part of a dentistry. This is the removal of plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth both above AND below the gum line. This is what takes the longest since we need to scale all 4 sides of each tooth. Scaling requires a lot of detail work. Scaling probes are very pointy and sharp, therefore, one minor move from the pet can cause the hand to slip and hurt your pets’ gums, tongue or cheek. Some groomers and other places may offer a discounted dental scaling without anesthetics but I can guarantee that you are not getting a bargain. Not only will the job be less professional and incomplete but it can also be traumatizing and painful for the pet. It will also leave you with the misconception that your pets’ teeth are being well cared for when in fact they are not. This could lead to serious dental and health problems later on down the road.
  • Polishing: We always complete the dentistry process by filling in the uneven ridges that are created by the scaling process with polish to help prevent further buildup of plaque and tartar. After the polish, the teeth must be rinsed. This cannot be swallowed by the pet. If the pet was awake this would be difficult and dangerous to do.
  • Extractions: We simply CANNOT remove teeth without anesthesia. This would be extremely painful, traumatic and dangerous for any pet as well as the Veterinarian performing the extraction.

Dental procedures require the use of some pressure on the teeth and gums and can cause minor temporary pain/discomfort. In the human world we understand that our dentist is acting in our best interest, however, we simply cannot convey this same message to our pets. Anesthesia is therefore, a necessity so that we can ensure that we are providing our pets with the best, trauma- free dental care possible.

If you would like to book at dental appointment for your pet, please call Mountain Road Animal Hospital at 506-382-0061.