NON-ANESTHETIC DENTISTRY (NAD) FOR PETS?

Some veterinarians and lay people are recommending and performing dental prophylaxis on pets without the use of anesthesia. Some clients may find this attractive given their concerns about anesthesia and a desire to save a little money.

NAD is SUB-STANDARD veterinary care. First hand scaling can be uncomfortable and downright painful as most pets have gingivitis. A complete oral exam will be close to impossible. A thorough cleaning will be close to impossible. Dental X-rays checking for problems below the gum line are impossible. Dental problems will be under diagnosed, under treated, and pets will continue to suffer. This is a huge disservice to clients and their companions, and both the AVMA and AVDS (Dental Society) have come out with strong statements against NAD.

Dental prophylaxis under general anesthesia with intra-oral X-rays is the accepted STANDARD OF CARE, and is what we recommend at Angel Oak Animal Hospital on Johns Island. The pet will be comfortable, and its airway protected from fluids and bacteria. Scaling, polishing, probing, and charting will be thorough. X-rays to check below the gum line for problems can be taken. Finally, a complete and accurate assessment of the patients mouth has been done and appropriate treatments may be recommended to the pet owner. This process alone can up to an hour to do properly, and it is not uncommon to find problems below the gum line.

CASE STUDY-Maggie is a 4 year old toy poodle with mild gingivitis and moderate tartar. Her mouth cleaned up beautifully, and no abnormalities were found on exam and probing. Full mouth intra-oral X-rays were taken as part of her oral evaluation. Periapical lucency’s (halo bone loss at root tip) were identified. Maggie had been suffering with 6 tooth root abscesses and no one knew! This would have been missed with NAD as there was no indication in her mouth to suggest the abscesses. Maggie underwent 6 surgical extractions with gingival flaps and did great!

NAD PicNAD abscess

I have evaluated and treated pets who owners claimed their previous vet hand scaled their pet’s teeth for years. These patients required extensive oral surgery, and needless to say, these pet owners were not very happy that their companion suffered for years with a painful and chronic condition.

– Ben Gruhler, DVM