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Non-Anesthetic Dental Treatments: More Harm Than Good?


–by Timothy Hodge, DVM


Dental disease in dogs is one of, if not the most, common disorders affecting our canine friends. By the age of three, 80% of all dogs have sufficient dental disease that warrants professional dental cleaning.


tance of proper oral health and the need for dental treatments, but acceptance and compli- ance is low. Why is this? In my experience, the fear of anesthesia is


the number one reason why dogs, especially older ones, do not have proper dental treatments performed. While it does affect all dogs and all breeds, dental dis- ease is prevalent primarily in older toy breeds. Costs and fees are generally less of a concern as most pet parents know how important this treatment is and plan accordingly. The key to preventing tooth loss is assessment and treatment. This is greatly limited with non-anesthetic den- tal treatments. Non-anesthetic dental cleanings give


pet owners a false sense of security into believing that they are doing what is best for their pet. However, in many cases, disease is left undetected and untreated. The pet suffers in silence until they can no longer tolerate the pain. By this


Unfortunately, that doesn’t occur with


enough regularity to maintain good oral health. Many dogs suffer in silence as a result dental disease. Dental disorders, including plaque, tartar,


Timothy Hodge, DVM is the owner/practioner of Harbourside Animal Hospital and Cross Creek Animal Medical Center. Having completed his training at the Chi Institute, he provides acupuncture and herbal therapies in addition to traditional medical care.


Photo above right: Rita, Zoe and Chloe


www.TheNewBarker.com


gingivitis, periodontal disease, infections, cavi- ties, and tooth trauma, all affect the oral cavity. Dental disease also has significant implications for the rest of the body. The heart, kidney, res- piratory system and brain are all impacted by diseases of the teeth and oral cavity. Professional dental treatments not only provide for a healthy oral cavity, but also the health of the body as a whole. So, the benefits of prop- er dental care far outweigh the risks. All major veterinary organizations that


provide treatment guidelines and recommen- dations have established that professional anes- thetic dental cleanings are considered standards of care. To not use anesthesia with dental treat- ments is considered to be below the minimum appropriate level of care. Anesthesia is the only way a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment can be performed. Many dog owners are aware of the impor-


point, the disease has progressed to where extraction of teeth is the only alternative. Other organs may now also be affected. If disease is found early enough, treat-


ments other than extractions are among avail- able options. Tooth loss can be avoided with early, proper assessment and treatment, only achieveable if the pet is under anesthesia. For non-anesthetic dental procedures, pets


have to be restrained. This increases the risks that the pet may be injured by the restraint. Dental instruments can also cause mouth, head trauma or injury. It is most important to real- ize that the majority of dental disease lies below the gum line. This cannot be addressed effectively with non-anesthetic cleanings. Cleaning only the surface of the tooth


crown is a cosmetic procedure that offers no health benefits for the pet. Non-anesthetic dental cleanings are not in the best interest of your pet’s health and well-being.


cerned with anesthesia in their older dogs. g THE NEW BARKER 77


AGE IS NOT A DISEASE Many pet parents become more con-


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