Are Anesthesia Free Dental Cleanings Really Cheaper?

Our general veterinary colleagues often run into the issue of their clients choosing non-anesthetic dental scaling over veterinary dental cleanings because of the cost differences. Clearly, in today’s world everyone is looking to save where they can and so it’s not hard to understand why pet owners are easily swayed into choosing the non-anesthetic dental scaling. For $100 – $200, a groomer or other provider offers to “clean your pet’s teeth for less cost and less risk” – unfortunately the truth is neither is true.

When pet owners want to know why a veterinary dental cleaning under anesthesia is so much more expensive, it’s important to help them understand the differences in the service their pet is receiving. Here are a few topics that will help you better educate your pet patient families:

Helping Pet Owners Understand Costs
First, help your client understand the level of care you are providing their pet and what your costs represent and that choosing the proper veterinary dental cleaning provides a value to their pet.

  • Safety under anesthesia – Pet owners should know what anesthetic and monitoring equipment is available, what the pre-operative evaluation includes, and the training and staff necessary to monitor their pet while under anesthesia. All of these components are part of the cost and assure their pet is getting a high level of care while they are under an anesthetic procedure.
  • Cleaning and Radiography Equipment – The tools utilized to properly clean a pet’s teeth both above and below the gumline are specialized for pets. Your clinic invests in this equipment so that you have the technology to provide an appropriate level of care to every pet.
  • Expertise – You and your staff have likely invested in continuing education related to veterinary dental cleanings, anesthesia and other procedures which assures pets are in safe hands.
  • Professional Evaluation and Comprehensive Cleaning – You are not simply scraping their pets teeth, as is the case with an anesthesia free dental. You are cleaning, evaluating and sending their pet home with a healthy mouth, free from bacteria that causes periodontal disease.
  • Cost Benefit of Professional Annual Cleanings – Annual veterinary dental cleanings prevent costly and painful periodontal disease. Anesthesia free dentals provide no preventative benefit, and in fact increase the risk of periodontal disease because pet owners have a false sense of security that their pet’s mouth is healthy simply because the teeth look whiter. So, the cost associated with any anesthesia free procedure is a waste of a pet owner’s money.

Helping Pet Owners Understand Anesthesia
Pet owners are often concerned about their pet being put under anesthesia. All of us love our pets and so it’s understandable when owners express concern about their dog or cat having to be anesthetized for a dental procedure. Here are some ways to help reassure your clients that their pet is safe in your care.

  • Offer your clients a detailed explanation of your practice’s anesthesia protocol. You should be able to explain the process in detail and be ready to answer their questions. Their questions may concern your level of training, preoperative patient evaluation, anesthetic dosages, use of IV fluids during a procedure, anesthetic monitoring equipment, and the whether there is a doctor in the immediate vicinity at all times.
  • Offer your clients your practice’s anesthetic safety record.
  • Help the pet owner understand that anesthesia does not carry a high level of risk, however lack of proper veterinary dental care using anesthesia free dentals carries an extremely high risk of their pet developing periodontal disease. Damage that occurs when periodontal disease is present often requires extensive treatment and extractions, which will also require anesthesia to treat.
  • Also help pet owners consider that a pet having their teeth scaled or scraped while awake is not a comfortable experience for their dog or cat. An animal must be restrained throughout the process and the scaling of the teeth is painful, especially if there is any inflammation of the gums or if periodontal disease is present. Encourage them to think about how it might feel to have plaque build-up scraped from their own teeth if they haven’t brushed their teeth for months or even years.