The Controversial Non-Anesthetic Dental Cleaning

Dental care is a complex issue in veterinary medicine.  Perfect dental care for pets is rare.  Complete homecare can be difficult and more extensive dental care has traditionally always required anesthesia. We provide non-anesthetic dental procedures and we believe these cleanings are an invaluable part of a complete dental program.  At our hospital, non-anesthetic dental cleanings are performed by technicians from Animal Dental Care. They are a company of highly trained veterinary dental technicians that come to our practice.

The non-anesthetic dental (NAD) is an oral assessment and charting, teeth cleaning and polishing done with gentle restraint.  The NAD should be used only with patients that have minimal,  early (stage 1) dental disease who are easy to handle.  Because the patient is not asleep, it is not possible to mirror all that can be done in an anesthetic dental procedure.

Deeper disease may be missed in non anesthetic procedures.  Behavior issues and patient compliance can interfere.  Dental radiographs, extractions, and some level of assessment simply is not possible awake.  The NAD and the anesthetic dental should be considered as two distinct procedures.  You and your veterinarian need to determine, often along with the trained dental technician, if a NAD is appropriate.  As noted, we have to consider how much dental disease is present and your pet’s temperament.  During preventive cleanings, Animal Dental Care technicians also may find disease that requires further care under anesthesia.


“Dental” procedures are also often done at pet shops and groomers without anesthesia and without the supervision of a veterinarian.  This easily may lead to pets with too high a degree of dental disease receiving incomplete and inappropriate dental care.  There is no benefit to simple removal of the tartar if deeper issues are present.     
Non-anesthetic dentistry is a controversial topic in veterinary medicine.  There are those that believe dental procedures should never be performed without anesthesia.  They believe that it is not possible to accomplish significant dental cleaning and assessment awake.  We disagree with this.  The technicians with Animal Dental Care have demonstrated over many years and hundreds of patients that they can effectively treat early dental disease.  As long as we select the right patients, good can be done with the NAD.  The best times for us to recommend a non-anesthetic procedure are early in life when there is minimal tartar and in between anesthetic dental cleanings when the tartar build up is low.

We believe providing non-anesthetic dentistry for the right patients in the right circumstances is the best dental care for our patients.  Feel free ask us for more information.