Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 2019

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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11 February/March 2019 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM Business DENTAL CARE You know the statistic: 85 percent of all pets over age 3 have some level of dental disease. You know the benefits: less tooth loss, less oral pain, decreased likeli- hood of systemic disease. You know that an entire month on the veterinary calendar — February — has a dental focus: National Pet Dental Health Month. However, the average statistics for veterinary practices give every indication that none of the above has changed the level of impor- tance of the dental disease discus- sion in the client experience. So, if you know the "why," may- be you need help with the "what" and with "how" to find opportuni- ties in the mouths of your patients. Before we get started on the what and how, answer the following question toothfully: I believe that dental disease is: A. Very significant when it comes to patient care. B. Significant when it comes to patient care. C. Insignificant when it comes to patient care. D. Very insignificant when it comes to patient care. E. Fake news. If you answered A or B, then why don't your numbers reflect your concern? If you answered with any other option, continuing reading and let's see if I can change your mind. To make a difference in the lives of patients, you have to believe that you CAN make a difference. In the case of dental disease, not only can you make a difference in your patients' lives and their comfort, but your clients can relate to the condition from personal experience and can see it at home and at the practice. (Just flip a lip.) All of us can relate to oral pain at some point in our lives — cav- ities, crowns, root canals, canker sores, broken teeth or the loss of deciduous teeth. With this in mind, our responsibility is to ensure that our patients don't have to feel the same pain or worse. Dental care is an opportunity to control infection and, with it, control pain. That is a message you, your clients and your staff can relate to. Wrap your mindset around pain and infection. You do so when it comes to a cat bite abscess or a cystitis. Optimal dental care is a team effort. Every staff member needs to have buy in and understanding. It starts with training. Remember these seven points: Stress Staff Education Take time to discuss dental dis- ease with your staff. Dedicate a few meetings to the anatomy and pathophysiology of dental disease. At one great staff meeting we taught everyone how to grade teeth. Every pet in the hospital was brought to the treatment area, and all 15 or so employees were given dental report cards and asked to grade the periodontal disease, tartar and projected pain that each pet had. We then discussed the findings as a group. Going forward, the teeth of every pet, whether in the practice for a bath or physical examination, were graded and the information was entered into the animal's med- ical records. 1 You've read about it in this and other veterinary publications. You've heard about it from clinicians and consultants. And you might have learned about it in veterinary school. But the numbers do not support that you have accepted it. What is "it"? The huge patient care, client care and practice care opportunities that exist in the provision of quality dental care. By Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA A gap exists between how we usually approach pet dental care and what we ultimately can achieve. The opportunities to improve patient health and boost practice revenue are huge. You can't handle the tooth!

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