AAHA announces new mandatory dental standard requiring anesthesia, intubation

Beginning Nov. 1, 2013, AAHA-accredited veterinary hospitals or those hospitals aspiring to gain accreditation will be required to anesthetize and intubate all dental patients in order to pass the AAHA accreditation evaluation.

The standard applies to all dental procedures, including dental cleanings, AAHA said.

The announcement of the mandatory standard follows the summer introduction of the 2013 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, which advocate the use of anesthesia and intubation to conduct more thorough dental work and spare pets from pain during procedures. 

"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 cleaning a companion animal's teeth without general anesthesia and intubation is unacceptable and below the standard of care."

According to AAHA, general anesthesia with intubation offers several benefits for veterinary professionals and their patients, including:

  • Anesthesia alleviates companion animals' pain during dental procedures.
  • Anesthesia allows veterinarians to probe more deeply under the gum line, where at least 60% of plaque and tartar resides. 
  • Anesthesia also keeps animals immobilized, which enables veterinarians to take intraoral dental films.
  • Intubation during general anesthesia protects the trachea and prevents aspiration of water and oral debris.

According to the American Veterinary Dental College, the organization's board of directors firmly supports AAHA's decision to update its dental guidelines and implement the mandatory standard.  

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

More information

Read the 2013 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats