Brief History of Non-Anesthetic Dentistry and it’s progress through the years.

In the mid to late 80’s, a group of pet groomer’s had the idea of cleaning pets’ teeth without anesthesia.  The groomers actualized their idea by practicing different techniques of awake dentistry on their own pets. As time passed, they realized that the pets were more tolerant to this awake dental procedure then most other procedures offered by the groomer, including, clipping, nail trimming, ear cleaning and so on.  As the groomers’ new found practice popularized, they began offering the service to their clients as what would first be labeled an “awake dental”, or an anesthesia-free teeth cleaning.

What seemed to be almost overnight, this group of pet groomers developed a thriving business around this sought-after service. Years later, they would become the largest dog and cat layperson dental operation in America, with over 600 grooming, boarding, and pet day care facilities hosting them to offer this unique service.

However, these groomers failed to take into consideration what eventually led to the downfall of layperson pet dentistry, which was the simple fact that a dental procedure, by law, is considered to be a medical procedure, and any medical procedure must be performed under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.  Yet many of the laws regarding veterinary dental practices were initially unclear, in that they allowed for multiple “loop holes,” so this illegal layperson dentistry took place for many years, regardless of the legislation.

Throughout the last 10 years, the Veterinary Medical Board and the California Medical Association worked strenuously and put forth countless hours to try and protect the lives and health of pets that were having this illegal service done. They worked to push legislation into the hands of the appropriate committee that would eventually unanimously vote, in April of 2012, against the practice of dentistry outside the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Thus it is currently illegal to operate a hand scaler, or dental pick of any kind, outside the supervision of a veterinarian.

The other half of the story:
Throughout the years, and simultaneous to the groomers’ operation, there have been groups of individuals that were able to utilize the “idea” that the groomers’ had of performing a routine non-anesthetic dental cleaning. However, recognizing that a dental cleaning is a medical procedure, they chose to complete these procedures in a safe, and medically conducive environment, under the guidance of veterinarians. These individuals have strictly abided by the guidelines set forth by the Veterinary Medical Board, and have only practiced anesthesia-free dental cleanings in veterinary hospitals, under the guidance and supervision of licensed veterinarians.

Through years of progressive thinking, and utilizing every available avenue of literature written by board-certified veterinary and human dentists, there have been leaps and bounds made by such individuals who have dedicated their lives to setting standards and guidelines to follow when offering a non-anesthetic dental procedure. These select individuals have created a respected following of thousands of veterinarians who can attest to such ability, knowledge, and genuine caring and compassionate approach to non-anesthetic dentistry, and overall animal health.