The Bite of Bad Choices Client Handout: Nine Steps of a Professional Dental Cleaning

SOME PET OWNERS MAY THINK THAT NONANESTHETIC DENTISTRY (NAD) sounds like a good thing. But without a full examination of a pet’s mouth under anesthesia, the procedure is much like cleaning up the exterior of a vehicle while ignoring what’s under the hood. And the consequences can be tragic.

These realities are a call to veterinary practices to redouble their client education efforts. It’s important that clients understand not only the downsides of nonaesthetic dentistry, but also why a proper anesthetic dental procedure is the safest and best option for their pets.

To help with your client education efforts, we gathered up a list of reasons why anesthesia is essential in a dental procedure along with a bonus client handout to help you outline the steps your practice will take during their pet’s dental.

Enjoy our dental education tips and tricks below, and current Trends subscribers can read the full article with even more dental resources here. Not yet a Trends subscriber? Subscribe now!

Reinforce Why Anesthesia Is Needed

It’s important that clients understand that not having anesthesia for dental procedures is not in the best interest of their pets. Among the reasons that experts offered:

  • There is no way to comfortably clean underneath the gums, in between the teeth, and on the inside surface of every single tooth.
  • It’s stressful and dangerous.
  • Dental X-rays can’t be taken when pets are awake, leaving almost two-thirds of the tooth below the gum line unseen.
  • Tooth surfaces can’t be polished. Scraping the tooth creates a microabrasion in the enamel. If not polished away, the area is going to retain more plaque.
  • Probing and charting the teeth—an integral part of oral healthcare—is difficult to impossible to do without anesthesia.
  • The pet’s airway is not protected. If breaking off calculus, chunks of plaque could be aspirated into the lungs.
  • If a pet is stuck with a sharp scaler, the pet could bite the person and the pet will be averse to future cleaning or brushing.

Explain the Steps of a Dental Procedure

Clients will appreciate knowing some of the steps you and your staff are taking to provide excellent care for their pets. Don’t hesitate to talk up your hospital by explaining that your practice follows the 2019 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats and upholds the most rigorous standards of patient care. Make it clear that their pet will be monitored by a trained veterinary professional before, during, and after the procedure, and even consider introducing the anesthesiologist to the client to set their mind at ease.

We designed a free client handout that explains each step of an anesthetic dental procedure to help reinforce this conversation. Download your copy below! 



Client Handout: Nine Steps of a Professional Dental Cleaning


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