know if it is time to apply anesthesia when prophylaxis is done

Dental problems in pets are very common, around 85% of dogs and cats over 3 years of age already have some degree of periodontal disease, which is an indication that something is failing in terms of care and hygiene. oral hygiene in our pets

pet oral care

  • Brush their teeth every day, with a soft bristle toothbrush, I recommend the use of a human, pediatric toothbrush, it helps not to injure the tissues of the oral cavity such as gums and mucous membranes.
  • We can use prizes or special snack-type toys for oral care at home.
  • Do not supply natural bones or hard-consistency nylon toys, as they are the main cause of dental fractures.
  • In addition to home care, it is essential to carry out prophylaxis once a year.

In recent years, in our country, the interest of owners in the oral care of pets has been growing, which has generated an increase in the supply of veterinary dental services, but this has also generated an increase in the supply of these treatments by not only veterinary specialists in veterinary dentistry, but also general veterinary doctors and even other related workers without a professional degree in veterinary medicine, which is known as professional intrusion, which is not only unethical, but also dangerous for our pets, in addition some of these “professionals” offer prophylaxis without anesthesia, indicating that it is the safest option for our furry ones, but is this really true? Is it really the safest option? Is anesthesia really risky for our furry ones?

The first thing we must know and understand is how periodontal disease develops and what risk it represents for our pets.

Contrary to what is often thought, periodontal disease is not only the accumulation of dental calculus on the teeth, as this occurs at the same time with other problems such as gingivitis, loss of the periodontal ligaments, loss of teeth, infection and destruction of the alveolar bone, and can lead to cases in which an oro-nasal communication (mouth and nose) is generated due to infection and severe destruction of the maxillary bone.

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All these problems are generated because bacterial plaque accumulates not only on the dental surface, but also in the gingival sulci, which are the spaces below the gum line, which function like a pocket, in where the bacteria present in the normal bacterial flora of the oral cavity (Gramm+) accumulate and begin to generate an environment without oxygen, conducive to other much more aggressive bacteria (Gramm-), colonizing these grooves, these go to adhere to the supporting surfaces of the tooth known as the periodontium, the first step in the body’s response to these bacteria, is the inflammation of the gums known as gingivitis, with this certain processes are unleashed to try to attack these bacteria, but if these bacteria are not removed, this gingivitis becomes periodontitis, which is the process of inflammation of the periodontium.

It should be noted that gingivitis is a reversible process, if the agent causing the inflammation is eliminated, while periodontitis is irreversible, since at this point the supporting structures of the tooth are affected, which ultimately triggers the loss of the teeth if not treated on time, but this is not the most serious, in addition to all these local problems, if this infection of oral origin is not treated on time, these bacteria present in periodontal disease can reach the bloodstream ( bacteremia), causing irreversible damage to vital organs such as the liver, kidneys and heart.

Now understanding the process of periodontal disease, it is important to understand what role anesthesia plays in treating this problem.

Unfortunately, many times a feeling of fear is generated around anesthesia, but just like in human medicine, as long as it is performed by an anesthesiology specialist, you can always choose the safest option for each patient, which is why whatever Whatever the treatment to be performed, the first thing is to make sure that the professionals in charge of the treatment are really trained to perform it, the anesthesiologist will request the pre-surgical tests to evaluate the condition of the patient to be anesthetized, and thus choose the best anesthetic option, minimizing the risks to the maximum, and in this way to be able to carry out a complete treatment that guarantees good long-term results. Remember health begins with the mouth, so you should not sacrifice the oral health of your furry ones due to an unjustified fear of anesthesia.

Periodontal disease is also the most common condition in dogs and cats, yet it is one of the least diagnosed and least treated diseases

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According to the world standards for small animal veterinary dentistry, published by the WSAVA (World Small Animal Association), all dental procedures must be performed under general anesthesia for several reasons, the main ones being:

  • All dental procedures must begin with taking intraoral radiographs, which are impossible to perform with the patient awake, the importance of radiography is that thanks to them, structures that are impossible to evaluate with the naked eye can be evaluated, that is, the ligament periodontal, dental roots, alveolar bone, which as we mentioned before are not only the support structures of the tooth, but also the areas where the main problems caused by bacterial infections in the oral cavity occur.
  • Depending on what is found in the x-rays, a surgical plan can be made, which may include not only extractions, but also gingival surgeries, root planing and alveoloplasties (alveolar bone remodeling surgeries) among others. All these treatments must be performed by trained and qualified veterinarians in the area of ​​veterinary dentistry, and for obvious reasons none of these procedures can be performed if the patient is not properly anesthetized.
  • Dental equipment is cooled by water, because its tips are heated, this is important to know because when the patient is anesthetized an endotracheal tube is used, which blocks the passage of these liquids to the lungs, with this bronco aspiration and severe respiratory complications that could occur if the treatments were not performed under anesthesia and with an endotracheal tube are avoided.
  • Another important point of dental equipment is that they have sharp tips capable of injuring tissues such as the gums, mucous membranes and tongue, if the patient is not anesthetized, it is very possible that in the face of any painful stimulus, he will move, increasing the risk of injury. caused by the equipment and instruments used.
  • Additionally, these equipments generate noises that can be stressful even for us, let’s imagine how stressful they can be for them who do not understand what is happening or the importance of the treatment that is being performed. When these services are offered without anesthesia, they usually use sedatives that prevent patients from moving, but they remain conscious and hear and feel everything that is happening around them, including the sounds of equipment, which results in an extremely stressful procedure for them since they continue to perceive everything that frightens them and generates stress, but at the same time, although their instinct tells them to flee, they cannot move because their ability to flee is reduced, generating fears and phobias of future.
  • A complete periodontal treatment must comply with several steps, first, as mentioned above, it must start with intraoral radiographs, then supragingival ultrasonic scaling must be performed, that is, above the gum line (the visible surface of the tooth), then From this, subgingival scaling must be performed, that is, below the gum line, this scaling is impossible to do with the patient awake, then comes the dental polishing with specialized equipment (compressed air dental unit, with handpiece low rotation) and a prophylactic paste, this dental polishing is an essential step in periodontal treatment or prophylaxis, since after scaling some micro-scratches are created on the dental surface with the equipment used for the removal of bacterial plaque (ultrasound or cavitron and curettes), which disappear with dental polishing. If dental polishing is not carried out, the micro-scratches will remain on the dental enamel, creating an ideal adherence surface for bacterial plaque, generating greater accumulation and formation of dental calculus in a very short time. It should be noted that this step is also impossible to perform. perform with the patient awake, since it is a bit annoying.

Most dental procedures are usually annoying and uncomfortable for pets, for this many reasons it is essential to anesthetize the patient.

Dr. Carolina Angulo Gómez, MV

University of La Salle, Bogota, Colombia.

Veterinary dentistry specialist

University of São Paulo, Brazil.