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has anyone done an anesthesia-free dental?

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has anyone done an anesthesia-free dental?

Post  lisamak on 7/27/2012, 9:47 am

I've found a shop I work with that has a vet come in 1x a month to do these and am considering it for Vince. He's 14 and has a whole host of health issues which mean he cannot go under anesthesia. I do brush his teeth every day and I use the PetzLife gel at night and those teeth work really well (at his age he still loves at least 1 lamb femur a week)...and when things smell funkier than usual we do a week or so of clavamox in case there's any infection.

Wondering if its worth the $300 or if it really won't do much more than what I'm already doing. I know the AVMA doesn't like it - so figuring its probably worthwhile for that reason alone Laughing

Any experiences appreciated :)

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Re: has anyone done an anesthesia-free dental?

Post  thminis on 7/27/2012, 11:19 am

lisamak wrote:I've found a shop I work with that has a vet come in 1x a month to do these and am considering it for Vince. He's 14 and has a whole host of health issues which mean he cannot go under anesthesia. I do brush his teeth every day and I use the PetzLife gel at night and those teeth work really well (at his age he still loves at least 1 lamb femur a week)...and when things smell funkier than usual we do a week or so of clavamox in case there's any infection.

Wondering if its worth the $300 or if it really won't do much more than what I'm already doing. I know the AVMA doesn't like it - so figuring its probably worthwhile for that reason alone Laughing

Any experiences appreciated :)


I'm a little confused about your AVMA comment. I know they have some things people don't always agree with, but that doesn't mean they don't know what they're doing in some things. What exactly do they mean by anesthesia free? Do they still do ultra sonic scaling? Do they use muscle relaxants?

I would just be very, very careful for a few reasons. My first concern would be if they find any problem teeth and if he needs extractions. Then you have to pay to put him under anyway (and consider the risks). The other big, big concern I'd have, is ultra sonic scaling hurts. I'm a vet tech and where I work, the techs do the scaling/polishing and the drs do everything else (inspect teeth and then extractions and such). Once we had a small incident where a pet wasn't turned on to the anesthesia right after being tubed, and the tech knew immediately because the pet was doing something we call chattering (which is what it sounds like...the jaw chatters even under anesthesia if there is pain. The pet was totally fine, but this pet was young and had healthy teeth, hence I know the scaling hurts if they're not under enough.

If Vince really truly needs a dental, he may need extractions, too. Do you have any veterinary universities by you? They have board certified dentists and anesthesiologists. More expensive, I know, but I'm just wondering if the anesthesia free one is worth your time.

I would just ask tons of questions. Do they still do screening bloodwork that morning (or within a short time)? Do they still place a catheter? What is anesthesia free? I highly, highly doubt they don't sedate at all, as it wouldn't be safe for the pet or techs/drs. Do they monitor blood pressure, ekg, do fluids, etc. In my clinic, when a pet is older or has health issues, we use a different pre medication before propofol. We take different precautions. Also, even without anesthesia, you have to be prepared for a pet to crash. Honestly, when we do anesthesia dentals, the pet also gets high volume of oxygen (and we monitor oxygen levels). I'd be wary if your guy will be unconscious without oxygen, especially if he severely needs a dental and it may be a longer one.
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Re: has anyone done an anesthesia-free dental?

Post  dieselsmom on 7/27/2012, 11:37 am

Lisa, Grace had what my vet referred to as an "awake" dental in April. Her health is such that we'd prefer not to put her under anesthesia unless absolutely necessary, but her teeth get so nasty that she really needed to have it done. I talked to lots of people and stressed about it, but felt comfortable after talking to the tech who does the awake dental. Basically, it's just a polishing of the teeth - it's very superficial (which my vet did explain to me prior) and not nearly as thorough as a full dental under anesthesia, but for us it really out only option unless there's an absess or infection that would have to be addressed under anesthesia. It took about 30 minutes and only cost about $60-80 if I remember correctly. I know it was less than $100 because I was surprised that it was so inexpensive. The tech did do a quick check of her teeth and didn't notice any obviously loose teeth, but again, it's very superficial compared to a full dental.

Given that, it sounds like you're in the same boat that I was with Grace with needed to avoid anesthesia if at all possible. This may be a good alternative for you, but I'd definitely talk some more to your dentist and get more details about what all is involved, since the $300 price is far more than I spent on Grace's.
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Re: has anyone done an anesthesia-free dental?

Post  lisamak on 7/27/2012, 4:02 pm

Thanks for the feedback Rachel. It is basically a glorified polishing though it does take 1-1.5 hours as the vet also does some scaling. I've tried to scale some of those funkier teeth at home without much luck as my husband is useless at keeping Vince relaxed Very Happy . Price difference of course as its a vet not a tech and we're in Boston - we're everything costs 3x as much as anywhere else usually. Not sure if I'm going to do it or not - figured I'd get a taste for it from folks that had done it.

Theresa thanks for your input as well. I'm not going to make this a political discussion but briefly the AVMA and its PAC partner with businesses who's practices I don't necessarily support and their support/opposition of legislation often clashes with my personal beliefs...that's why I made the snarky comment . I'm not going to go in to the specifics of Vince's medical history but he cannot go under anesthesia - I wouldn't do it and no vet will do it either. I was just looking to get a little extra "oomph" than I can do on my own with the anesthesia-free cleaning but it doesn't sound like that's the case from Rachel's description.

Thanks again to you both. The current protocol is working (I know since he sleeps on my pillow every night and has fairly pleasant dog breath) so guess we'll just stick with it Very Happy
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Re: has anyone done an anesthesia-free dental?

Post  thminis on 7/27/2012, 7:24 pm

lisamak wrote:Thanks for the feedback Rachel. It is basically a glorified polishing though it does take 1-1.5 hours as the vet also does some scaling. I've tried to scale some of those funkier teeth at home without much luck as my husband is useless at keeping Vince relaxed Very Happy . Price difference of course as its a vet not a tech and we're in Boston - we're everything costs 3x as much as anywhere else usually. Not sure if I'm going to do it or not - figured I'd get a taste for it from folks that had done it.

Theresa thanks for your input as well. I'm not going to make this a political discussion but briefly the AVMA and its PAC partner with businesses who's practices I don't necessarily support and their support/opposition of legislation often clashes with my personal beliefs...that's why I made the snarky comment . I'm not going to go in to the specifics of Vince's medical history but he cannot go under anesthesia - I wouldn't do it and no vet will do it either. I was just looking to get a little extra "oomph" than I can do on my own with the anesthesia-free cleaning but it doesn't sound like that's the case from Rachel's description.

Thanks again to you both. The current protocol is working (I know since he sleeps on my pillow every night and has fairly pleasant dog breath) so guess we'll just stick with it Very Happy

Lisa, I completely respect your opinions. You know what's best for Vince and no one else can tell you different. I think the stem of my long post was just to make sure that if he were to be sedated at all it can be risky with our more delicate pups. But again, I don't even doubt for a second that you're asking the right questions and considering all options best for your boy.
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