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Accredited hospitals to follow new dental standard

Aug. 27, 2013, DENVER – In a move applauded by the American Veterinary Dental College, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) announced it will require accredited veterinary hospitals to anesthetize and intubate patients undergoing any dental procedures, including dental cleanings.

The AAHA Board of Directors approved the mandatory dental standard at the summer board meeting. The new mandatory standard will apply to any AAHA practices scheduled for an accreditation evaluation on or after Nov. 1, 2013.

The introduction of the 2013 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, approved and endorsed by the American Veterinary Dental College, prompted AAHA to update the Dentistry section of the standards. The guidelines state that cleaning a companion animal’s teeth without general anesthesia and intubation is unacceptable and below the standard of care.

"At AAHA, we hold our accredited practices to the highest standard of veterinary excellence. We firmly believe that accredited practices should be practicing the best veterinary medicine," said Kate Knutson, DVM, 2013-2014 AAHA president. "The guidelines state that general anesthesia with intubation is necessary to properly assess and treat the companion animal dental patient. Because AAHA practices are expected to practice the highest level of veterinary excellence, AAHA’s leadership felt it necessary to update this dental standard so that they reflect best practices outlined in the guidelines."

The mandatory standard and the guidelines are both approved and endorsed by the American Veterinary Dental College Board of Directors.

"Dental experts agree with and endorse AAHA’s new mandatory standard regarding anesthesia and dentistry," said Jan Bellows, DVM, Dipl. AVDC, ABVP, president of the American Veterinary Dental College.

Proper dental care is a key component of good health for companion animals. General anesthesia with intubation is necessary to remove plaque and tartar from the entire tooth, at least 60 percent of which is under the gum line. General anesthesia with intubation also facilitates pain-free probing of each tooth, and provides the required immobilization necessary to take intraoral dental films. Without anesthesia, a veterinary professional can only partially clean the exposed crown, which is more cosmetic than therapeutic.


AAHA is the only organization in the United States and Canada that accredits companion animal hospitals based on standards that meet or exceed state regulations. Established in 1933, the Association is well-known among veterinarians for its leadership in the profession, high standards for veterinary practices and pet health care, and most importantly, its accreditation of companion-animal practices.

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