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Guinea Pigs and Conscious Dentals

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

I know my blog has been pretty quiet recently but hopefully with the start of 2020, I will manage a few more blog posts. I wanted to kick off 2020 with an interesting post as I have been thinking about the services I provide my clients. One of the debates that I have been having for a while is about the pros and cons of conscious molar dentals on guinea pigs.

Most guinea pig owners will understand or have experienced dental disease in their guinea pigs and are aware of the risks of anaesthetic.

Up until now I have preferred either a general anaesthetic or at least some sedation to perform molar dentals on guinea pigs. A number of my clients have been to a clinic in Northampton for this service and have given me very positive feedback on its success. So in 2019, I accompanied one of my clients to Northampton to observe this procedure first hand.

I previously had some reservations about conscious molar dentals in guinea pigs, these included:

· Concern that movement of the guinea pig during the procedure would make traumatising the mouth whilst rasping the teeth quite likely.

· Concern that the procedure would stress the guinea pig too much.

· Concern that visualisation of the molars would be limited. This combined with movement of the guinea pig would make the standard of the dental treatment significantly lower than that in an anesthetised patient.

Having observed the procedure, however, I found the guinea pig patient I accompanied to tolerate the procedure very well; and the dental treatment he received was as good as had he been anaesthetised.

There are obvious benefits of performing this procedure conscious. These include:

· No anaesthetic, there is still significant anaesthetic risk amongst guinea pigs.

· Ability to perform the procedure repeatedly; often malocclusions are a chronic problem requiring repeated corrections at frequent intervals to address the problem.

· Less likely to cause TMJ pain following the procedure.

· Easier visualisation of inflamed areas as the blood pressure hasn’t been reduced by the anaesthetic.

Whilst I still believe there will be some individuals who will not tolerate conscious dentals very well, and it would be in their welfare interest to have sedation or general anaesthetic for the procedure, I do believe those who do tolerate it would benefit from a conscious procedure. This is especially the case if they are of higher anaesthetic risk due to age or other illnesses and if they require repeated work at frequent intervals.

I am very grateful both to my client, her guinea pig and the vets in Northampton for allowing me to observe them. I will now be offering conscious molar dentals to my clients.

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