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Anaesthesia Free Dentals: A Welfare Concern?

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

'Anaesthesia free' dentals are procedures that are starting to be offered by some paraprofessionals. Here, we explain why we tend to not recommend you have your pets teeth scaled and polished without a general anaesthesic.

RCVS considers that “anaesthesia-free dental procedures” for cats and dogs, are not in the best interests of the health and welfare of patients.

Members of the public considering providing anaesthesia-free dental services should be aware of their responsibilities under the Veterinary Surgeons Act and also the potential dangers of causing harm to pets which could lead to actions under the Animal Welfare Act.

RCVS - Royal College Of Veterinary Surgeons statement:

Anaesthesia Free Dentals:

  • Cannot allow full oral examination to be performed and vitally important diagnoses may be missed or delayed;

  • Do not allow full and effective cleaning of the most important sub-gingival areas;

  • May actually cause damage to the tissues surrounding the teeth;

  • May cause discomfort, pain and/or distress to the animal;

  • Are likely to delay clients accessing effective, proper oral care;

  • If performed under the guise of a “Dental Treatment” could be considered misleading, unless the owners are made aware of the inadequate and potentially injurious nature of the procedure.

This statement is issued with the agreement of: a) EVDC (European Veterinary Dental College) b) EVDS (European Veterinary Dental Society) c) The current recognised Specialists in Veterinary Dentistry practising in the UK d) BVDA (British Veterinary Dental Association)

The pictures below show an anaesthetised dog under general anesthesia with analgesia (pain relief) on board.

This picture highlights clearly that scaling of the teeth only is not the appropriate treatment for many animals. A full oral examination will be inadequate in a conscious animal, and many are left with painful teeth in situ that should have been extracted.

Paraprofessionals in animal care and grooming can and do play a vital role in education, teaching owners how to complete dental hygiene care at home via toothbrushing to allow oral hygiene to be maintained.


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