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By Dr. Karen Becker

Nonprofessional dental scaling (NPDS), also known as anesthesia-free dentistry, is gaining popularity with an increasing number of pet owners. These are well-meaning pet guardians who may be fearful of anesthesia or may not be able to afford professional veterinary dental care. They want to provide some form of oral care for their pets, so they opt for NPDS.

However, anesthesia-free dentistry is essentially a cosmetic procedure that addresses only the parts of your pet’s teeth you can see. The question many pet healthcare professionals are asking is whether NPDS procedures are doing more harm than good. One of the biggest concerns many veterinarians have with just scraping teeth is that the mouth is full of blood vessels, which can launch oral bacteria into the bloodstream. Once the bacteria is in the bloodstream it can infect other organs like the valves of the heart, resulting in a disease known as vegetative valvular endocarditis. (Read the American Veterinary Dental College’s (AVDC) position statement on dental scaling without anesthesia.)Continue Reading