Friday, February 12, 2010

Are Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleanings Safe for Your Cat?

February is Pet Dental Health Month and a good time to talk to your veterinarian about your kitty’s dental needs. Last year here in this blog we gave a good overview of dental care for your cat.

Of course, to do a proper dental cleaning, your cat will be anesthetized during the procedure. Many people are concerned about the risks of general anesthesia. That is why we maintain strict surgical monitoring standards (read more about that here) as well as use a combination of painkillers, anti-inflammatory medicines and nerve blockers, especially in dental procedures that require extractions.

Recently we ran across an article from Veterinary News Network that discusses new anesthesia-free dental procedures. While this may seem like the perfect solution, there are concerns about how effective these procedures really can be. While the brochures for this type of procedure often show the animals sitting complacently while a technician cleans their teeth, this is not a very realistic situation. Many animals, especially cats, will not sit still for such a procedure leading to restraint that can add to the stress and actually create a fearful situation for the cat.

Another argument against these anesthesia-free procedures is the tools that are used versus the ones that can be used if the cat is properly anesthetized. For example, in addition to the ultrasonic scaler used to remove the build-up on the teeth, here at the Scottsdale Cat Clinic we use digital x-rays of the entire mouth to spot any problem areas that might not be visible to the naked eye. Such procedures are not possible without anesthesia. According to the VNN article, the tools used in these anesthesia-free procedures can actually cause more harm than good. They often cause pitting in the tooth enamel which actually increases plaque and tartar. There can also be damage to the gums, tongue, or lips if the cat moves during the cleaning.

Advances in anesthesia medications as well as combination medicine protocols such as those we use here at Scottsdale Cat Clinic greatly reduce the risks associated with general anesthesia. Remember that there is also a risk to not having proper dental care for your cat. Tartar buildup leads to gingivitis and tooth decay which can be painful. Cats rarely show signs of mouth pain and will eat normally even with severe dental disease. Dental disease can also lead to kidney, heart and joint disease when bacteria enter through the gums and spread throughout the body.

For more information about your cat’s dental health and how Scottsdale Cat Clinic can help, please feel free to contact us.

No comments: