Why does my dog need anesthesia for teeth cleaning? - Freeport Veterinary Hospital

There are many reasons. It seems like you should be able to do a quick cleaning and chunk off that tartar pretty easily in most dogs, but what you don't think about is one, the dog doesn't know what we're doing. And two, sometimes those are sharp instruments. It's hard to make the dog understand that you just need to hold still for a little bit. So, it's vital that we use anesthesia to keep the dog and our staff safe, but more importantly, by having them under anesthesia and having a breathing tube in place, we're able to protect their airway. We use an ultrasonic scaler to remove the tartar and clean the teeth, and that aerosolizes a lot of bacteria as we're cleaning off that tartar. If we didn't have a breathing tube in place, it could allow your dog to breathe in that bacteria, which would put him at risk for an infection like pneumonia.

Also, we take dental X-rays on all of our patients. We use a tiny plate (about an inch and a half by an inch and a half ) that captures the X-ray images, and it costs about $10,000.00. So we'd prefer Fluffy not to swallow that or chomp on it. That's another reason that anesthesia is critical, as we want to keep that plate safe and allow us to get really good films and figure out what's going on with the teeth.

why does my dog need anesthesia for teeth cleaning? - Animal Hospital of Statesville

Well, you could try to clean them like ours, but we don't recommend it. And you're also not going to do a very good job with that. So, pets don't say, "Ah," they don't open their mouth and let us get in there and mess around and scrape and crawl around and do our x-rays, et cetera. So yeah, the pets do have to be sedated for that. There has to be anesthesia involved to be able to truly assess the tooth. We really can't tell what's going on with that probe in the tooth without taking the tooth’s dental x-rays. And that can't be done in a pet who's awake.