An anxious dog who would not be able to handle someone sticking a hand in her mouth for an extended period of time and doing some light probing would not make a good candidate for dental cleanings without anesthesia. This point is agreed upon by both dentists in favor of anesthesia-free dental cleanings and those against it. “The dog needs to be mellow enough to allow the cleaning,” says veterinarian Ellie Shelburne, who schedules some patients in her Northampton, Massachusetts, practice for anesthesia-free dental work. In some cases, a light sedative is used on a dog to help keep her calm during the procedure. But a dog with a generally high-strung temperament who perhaps is cautious about people and especially nervous about people coming too close to her face should undergo anesthesia for dental cleanings from the get-go. The aim is not to traumatize a dog but to put her through less of a medical procedure if her personality will allow for it.