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A Note About General Anesthesia

When you talk about dental exams and cleanings, the part that gives some pet owners pause is the need for general anesthesia. The experts WebMD talked with felt strongly that an exam and cleaning done without anesthesia is nearly useless.

That's because the bulk of an oral exam is searching for and treating what's below the gum line. Without general anesthesia, a full exam, and X-rays, any initial treatment can't be done effectively.

"Though I worry about it every time I put a patient under anesthesia, it's not anywhere near the concern it was 15 years ago," says Beckman. "We've had a lot of changes in our drug protocols over the years, with better drugs and an extensive knowledge base thanks to the veterinary anesthesia specialty." In most cases, anesthesia is less harmful than dental disease.

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