New dental standard required for AAHA accreditation

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Dental procedure being performedIn a move applauded by the American Veterinary Dental College, the American Animal Hospital Association this August announced it will start requiring AAHA-accredited hospitals to anesthetize and intubate patients undergoing any dental procedures, including dental cleanings.

The AAHA board of directors approved the mandatory dental standard at the summer board meeting. The new mandatory standard will apply to any AAHA practices scheduled for an accreditation evaluation on or after Nov. 1, 2013.

The introduction of the 2013 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, approved and endorsed by the AVDC, prompted the AAHA to update the dentistry section of the accreditation standards. The guidelines state that cleaning a companion animal’s teeth without general anesthesia and intubation is unacceptable and below the standard of care.

“The guidelines state that general anesthesia with intubation is necessary to properly assess and treat the companion animal dental patient. Because AAHA practices are expected to practice the highest level of veterinary excellence, AAHA’s leadership felt it necessary to update this dental standard so that they reflect best practices outlined in the guidelines,” said AAHA President Kate Knutson.

Like the AAHA guidelines, the mandatory standard was also approved and endorsed by the AVDC board of directors.

General anesthesia with intubation is necessary to remove plaque and tartar from the entire tooth, at least 60 percent of which is under the gum line, according to AAHA. General anesthesia with intubation also facilitates pain-free probing of each tooth and provides the required immobilization necessary to take intraoral dental radiographs. Without anesthesia, a veterinary professional can only partially clean the exposed crown, which is more cosmetic than therapeutic, the association explained.