ACVAA announces support of AAHA dental standard

The board of directors of the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia (ACVAA) announced this week its support of the new American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) standard requiring general anesthesia with intubation for all dental procedures.

ACVAA joins the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) in supporting the new AAHA standard.

AAHA’s new mandatory dental standard went into effect Nov. 1. Hospitals scheduled for an accreditation evaluation on or after that date are required to use general anesthesia with intubation for all dental procedures in order to pass their evaluation.

In a letter addressed to AAHA President Kate Knutson, DVM, and sent to veterinary trade publications, the ACVAA expressed its support of the AAHA standard.

“The board of directors of the ACVAA sees some important issues related to [Professional Outpatient Preventive Dentistry] that we feel require our strong objection,” wrote Lesley J. Smith, DVM, DACVAA, chair of the ACVAA board of directors. “Specifically, we question the ethics of performing dental work in conscious patients due to the associated restraint methods and lack of analgesia. We therefore ask whether the benefits of POPD would, in fact, outweigh the risk of general anesthesia.”

The ACVAA board of directors encouraged veterinarians concerned with anesthetizing patients during dental work to engage assistance of a Diplomate of the ACVAA.

The statement from the board of directors comes as a response to a recent article published in the October 2013 edition of Veterinary Practice News (VPN). The VPN article analyzed whether Professional Outpatient Preventive Dentistry (POPD) can be done effectively in fully awake cats and dogs. The article included viewpoints from both opponents and proponents of POPD, concluding that anesthesia-free POPD is a better approach to good dental health for cats and dogs.

AAHA’s 2013 Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats state that cleaning a companion animal’s teeth without general anesthesia is considered unacceptable and below the standard of care.

The AAHA standard has come under fire from supporters of non-anesthetic dentistry, including companies that provide anesthesia-free dental services such as Pet Dental Services and Animal Dental Care.