sweetie ShawThere are many benefits of having healthy teeth and healthy gums.  It improves overall health, it leads to longer life, and it helps with better breath.  Keeping your pet’s teeth and mouth clean and healthy involves regular care at home, and timely visits to the Veterinarian.

Non-Anesthetic Dentistry: It’s not enough

Good home care including brushing, chewing, and rinsing is the cornerstone of maintaining a healthy mouth. With diligent home care, you can help prevent tooth loss and painful gum diseases. There are many available products, and we can help you choose the most appropriate ones.

Despite good home care, a professional procedure under anesthesia may still be necessary. Non-anesthetic dental cleaning for your pet sounds attractive, but it is not an adequate procedure.  Before you consider having a procedure performed without anesthesia please contact us, and consider the following;

  1. It is difficult or impossible to see all of the surfaces of the tooth without anesthesia. Try seeing the surface of the tooth that faces the tongue in your awake cat!
  2. It is impossible to adequately examine and clean beneath the gum line without using anesthesia. The instruments are sharp, the gums are sensitive, and we use an ultrasonic scaler with high volumes of water. Significant plaque  lies below the gumline, and it is this plaque that can cause irreversible damage.
  3. If you do not polish the teeth after you scale and scrape, the surface of the tooth remains rough, and it is more likely to re-accumulate plaque.
  4. Radiographs can’t be taken in an awake patient, and disease may only be visible with an x-ray.
  5. The American Animal Hospital Association will not give accreditation to any hospital that performs dental procedures in awake patients. This is because it is below the accepted standard of care.

The following link has more discussion about anesthesia and dentistry;


Scaling the teeth in an awake patient may make the teeth temporarily look better, but it is really just a cosmetic procedure at best, and may be causing harm. It is critical to have the procedure done comprehensively and safely.

Anesthetic Dentistry:

Anesthesia sounds scary. With proper preparation, skilled veterinary care, and careful monitoring it can be done safely.


To prepare for anesthesia, we start with a comprehensive physical examination. We want to make sure that the heart and lungs are working well, and we want to make sure that your pet is healthy enough to have anesthesia. Then we will recommend running some blood tests  to make sure that all organs are functioning properly. Additional testing may include a urinalysis and radiographs.

We will choose the anesthetic agents we use based on our exam, bloodwork results, breed, age, and temperament.

Anesthesia and monitoring:

We specifically choose the anesthetics based on the individual pet. We use a combination of injectable and inhalant anesthetics. This allows us to minimize the potential side effects, and use lower doses of all the drugs.

We pay very close attention to all of our patients that are anesthetized. We use blood pressure monitors, pulse oximetry, and EKG monitoring.  All of our patients have an intravenous catheter placed, and fluids administered. We keep our patients warm with supplemental heat, and we monitor their temperature carefully. We are trained to watch for problems and we are prepared to manage any problems.

What happens during a dental?courtney dental

The procedure starts with a complete examination of the teeth and the mouth. We will make sure that the gums are not inflamed, and we will make sure that there are no masses. We will chart all of the teeth so that we can monitor them in the future. If there are any areas of concern, we will take x-rays with our digital x-ray unit.

The tooth cleaning procedure involves an ultrasonic scaler and hand scaling.

If extractions are necessary, we will communicate this with you. We utilize local anesthetic nerve blocks in addition to oral and injectable pain medications. We have a sophisticated dental unit that includes a high speed drill to facilitate extractions.

If there are extractions done, we carefully prepare the area and use absorbable suture material to close the gums.

We complete the dental procedure with  a fluoride treatment.

If you have any questions about the benefits of an anesthetic dental procedure, we are here to help you.