Sunday, March 25, 2012

Unlicensed Pet Dentistry is Illegal and Dangerous

Via - Non-anesthetic dental scalings (NADS) or “anesthesia free pet dentals” involve removing tartar from an animal’s teeth by simply holding the pet and not using any sort of sedation or anesthetic. Many of the websites promoting this service tout their “proprietary restraint techniques” as the reason they are able to work in your pet’s mouth while he or she is awake. 

Businesses that encourage these types of procedures claim that their methods are safer, healthier for the pet and less costly for the owner. However, understanding the risks of these supposedly safer options might offer an opposing view. 

First, these methods should not be called “pet dentistry”. Dentistry involves much more than a simple scaling of the teeth. In fact, the term dentistry is defined as the branch of medical science concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the teeth and gums. The American Veterinary Dental College prefers the term “non-anesthetic dental scalings”, or NADS, as this more accurately describes these procedures. Individuals doing these scalings are rarely trained in dentistry.

Next, the marketing of these services focuses on the fact that the providers don’t use any sort of anesthetic or sedation. Several sites quote a single scientific article and claim that one out of every 253 pets dies from an anesthetic procedure. What they DON’T tell you is that particular study was done at a veterinary teaching hospital where the vast majority of their surgical patients were severely ill or injured. Other studies show a much lower risk of anesthetic related deaths.

Even the aspect of saving money that is highly publicized may not be accurate. A search of pricing showed a range between $125 and a $165 for these procedures. While this might be less expensive than the veterinarian, these companies and individuals are recommending that their clients return, on average, once every three months. That’s $500 to more than $650 per year!

Remember, many of the people who encourage and provide these sorts of services are unlicensed, often unsupervised and unregulated. This means that you have no official recourse if your pet is injured during the scaling. Cuts of the gums, neck strains and even long term anxiety have been reported.

If you are concerned about your pet’s dental health, the best resource for you is your veterinarian. He or she will have the right equipment to fully assess the whole mouth, not just the outer surfaces of the teeth. With dental x-rays and effective dental probing done on an anesthetized pet, your veterinarian can get the entire picture of the health of your pet’s mouth.

Written by Dr. Jim Humphries at Veterninary News Network

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  1. I shudder when I think of this going on, and people under the false assumption that hand scaling is not the same as a complete prophy--scaling, subgingival curettage, and polishing. I always say an educated veterinary client is the best kind, and your post certainly helps educate!

  2. I agree Teri. I've cleaned both human and dog and cat teeth and there is no way I could do as thorough a job without anesthesia on a pet. And a bad dental cleaning can be worse than no dental cleaning. Scaling alone leaves the teeth rough and makes it even easier for plaque to attach. There's a reason I had to have 1600 hours of practical experience to graduate with a degree in dental hygiene. There's a lot more to a cleaning than just getting the calculus off.