Sunday, February 8, 2015

Internet Myth #19: NAD (Non-Anesthetic Dentistry) is a safe and effective alternative to a full dentistry done under anesthesia at the Veterinary Hospital

Anesthetic Free Dentistry for pets is a relatively new phenomenon that we are seeing gaining strength in pet care in many parts of North America. It seems that everyone is jumping on board and the service is being offered by groomers, trainers, pet stores, boarding kennels, and surprisingly even some Veterinary Clinics.

The procedure involves the scraping or scaling of visible tartar off the surfaces of the teeth that are accessible with the pet awake. The argument for this service is that it avoids an anesthetic and therefore is less risky and less costly.

However, what most don't realize is that there is a huge cost in other ways. The vast majority of Veterinarians and Veterinary Dentists have the following major concerns:

1) Most pets will not allow a detailed examination and scaling of all teeth surfaces including those surfaces that are on the insides of the mouth (towards the tongue) AND the sub-gingival regions (portions of the teeth under the gums). Therefore, the end result is purely a cosmetic one. The teeth might look better to the untrained eye but the procedure has done nothing for the area where the disease occurs under the gums.

2) The procedure gives the owners a false sense of security by making the owners think they have done something beneficial for their pet. In reality, only the cosmetics have improved and the disease and/or pain can continue unabated. This can delay appropriate professional treatment which the pet really needs.

3) The public are paying anywhere from $75 - $175 for a procedure that is cosmetic only and ineffective at addressing the real problem (periodontal disease).

4) The procedure can and will cause head-shyness and may be inhumane in dogs and cats who are forcibly restrained for the procedure against their will.

5) It is a potentially dangerous procedure for both the pet and the provider. Pets gums can be lacerated by sharp instruments, teeth can be fractured during restraint and jaws can be broken. Dogs and cats will bite when forced against their will.

6) Oral health issues can be worsened by irritating and inflaming painful gums. No pain control is generally used during or after the procedure.

7) The practice is being offered by lay people who do not have special training in dental anatomy, physiology, diagnostics or therapy.

8) Anesthetic fears are overstated and in this day and age anesthetic procedures done by competent professionals are very safe. See my Myth #11 and Myth #12 below.

9) The practice is ILLEGAL in at least one district of North America (Ontario, Canada). It is considered the practice of Veterinary Medicine without a license.

10) The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) calls pet dentistry without anesthesia "unacceptable and below the standard of care". Here is the link...…/AAHA-announces-new-mandatory-dental-s…

11) The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) has issued a position statement warning against its use. Here is the link...

In summary, Non-anesthetic Dentistry is a potentially painful, sometimes dangerous, fear-inducing cosmetic procedure being offered and done by many non-professional lay people who are taking your money and providing a service which will be of limited long-term benefit for your pet. Despite the way it is being marketed, it is in NO way comparable to a professional Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT) provided by a Veterinarian while the pet is under anesthesia.

Please always seek the advice of your Veterinarian when it comes to the health care of your pet. What may at first look like a bargain can end up costing you and your pet a lot more in the long run both monetarily and in pain and delay of professional treatment.

For those of you in Ontario, Canada if you see or hear of a lay person offering such services please contact the College of Veterinarians of Ontario to report them for illegally providing Veterinary Services without a License. Thank you.

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