February is Pet Dental Health awareness month. Your veterinarian will be offering dental procedure specials. These specials will include general anesthesia for dental procedures. We holistic vets also feel dental health is important for your dog’s overall health, but we disagree that all dental procedures require anesthesia. Here is The Well Dog Place’s program for your dog’s health.
Dental Disease = Internal Disease
The scientific evidence is overwhelming. Severe dental tarter, gum and periodontal disease allows massive numbers of mouth bacteria into the blood stream of your dog. These bacteria take up housekeeping on the heart valves and can eventually lead to heart failure. These bacteria also invade the liver, kidneys, bladder and other organs and cause chronic infections. Dental disease is a leading cause of geriatric liver, kidney and urinary infections. Most diseased teeth become loose or have such severe root exposure that the teeth need removal. This stage of dental disease needs veterinary care and probably dental procedures requiring anesthesia.
But you are afraid of the anesthetic risk! You are rightfully worried but the risk of organ failure due to infection is far greater than the risk of anesthesia. Veterinary anesthesia and monitoring has advanced so far in my career. When I graduated veterinary school the standard of anesthesia for routine procedures was taping a syringe full of barbiturates in the vein of a front leg and administering the drug as needed during the procedure. The alternative was a gas anesthesia called metofane that was notorious for causing post-surgical kidney failure. Most of our routine surgeries had to be hospitalized for at least 2 days post-surgery to recover from the effects of the anesthesia.
Thankfully, those days are gone. Newer drugs and surgical monitoring have most patients out-the-door the same day as surgery with no side effects and complete recovery.
Dental Tarter Does Not = Dental Disease
Accumulation of tarter on the teeth can occur without causing gum or periodontal disease. This condition does not require removal with anesthesia in cooperative dogs. Dental scraping and mild subgingival curettage without anesthesia can remove this tarter and decrease the progression to severe dental disease. Routine scraping and home dental care can successfully prevent dental disease and the need for dental procedures requiring anesthesia. But are all providers of these services qualified?
Honestly, most grooming facilities that offer dental cleaning without anesthesia are not qualified to provide the procedure. That is why the Board of Examiners in Veterinary Medicine has deemed this procedure illegal. We disagree with this blanket rule that all dentals need veterinary supervision under anesthesia. In fact, I have found that the technical staff in many veterinary hospitals are not properly trained and injure teeth with high-speed polishing technology and increases the need for continued dental procedures.
So how do you know which type of dental procedure is right for your dog?
Our wellness consultations include a close examination of your dog’s teeth and risk assessment to determine which procedure is best for your dog. Our recommended providers of veterinary dentals and anesthesia-free dental procedures were chosen carefully based on the quality of their work and their reasonable pricing. We also teach easy-to-do hints for home dental care that reduce the need for any dental procedures.