Today's Veterinary Business

JUN 2018

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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39 June/July 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM The changing face of dentistry Easy-to-implement changes can take odontophobia out of your veterinary practice and your clients. Odontophobia: the fear of going to the dentist. Millions of people have it and the human dental industry has spent years trying to overcome it, from allowing patients to customize music choices and sit in a massage chair to using less-painful nerve blocks and providing faster, more comfortable cosmetic choices. Still, a significant number of people are reluctant to see a dentist even once a year, and this fear can translate into fewer visits and less dental compliance with veterinary patients. Communication FEARLESS But the moment has arrived. We now have new and very effective strategies in veterinary medicine that can lessen fear, anxiety and stress in all aspects of the dental visit. Why should every small animal practitioner read this article? Three reasons. • Oral disease is one of the most common diseases diag- nosed in veterinary medicine. Over 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats will have some form of periodontal disease by age 2. • A dental machine is the most commonly purchased piece of veterinary equipment for small animal practice. It also should be the most used and charged for, helping to pay off the lease or debt and drive up the profit center. • Utilizing techniques to lessen fear, anxiety and stress in both the patient and owner builds trust in the veteri- nary-client-patient relation- ship. This allows the veteri- narian to explain the value of the preanesthetic blood work requirement (not a recom- mendation), the new but safer anesthesia protocol, the benefit to anesthetic monitor- ing and the importance of the pain management cocktail. Clients, as we've discussed before, will then believe more in the process and become more compliant, increasing the quality of medicine and revenue in the practice. Show and Tell Even though periodontal disease is one of the most common condi- tions seen in small animal practice, some of the signs can be quite subtle, especially to pet own- ers. The start of every veterinary dentistry procedure is the initial consult exam. In this time together, showing the inside of the patient's mouth to the client is incredibly important, but doing so might be difficult when the patient has a painful mouth and fears the hospi- tal, the staff or the restraint. We can't immediately resolve the pain of periodontal disease or resorptive lesions, but client administration of trazodone to dogs or gabapentin to cats two hours before an exam will help the patient be more tolerant of a thorough physical and painless oral exam. If your patient is relaxed, your client likely will be, too. Note that many veterinary den- tists recommend offering a prized food option during the physical exam, like cheese spread on a dog chew or pureed chicken baby food for cats. This step entices the pa- tient and lessens fear and anxiety associated with the exam room. The anxiety and stress of seeing their dog or cat in pain can be diffi- cult for pet owners. However, clients also are fearful of the anesthesia associated with a procedure and the financial investment required to resolve the disease. Instead of look- ing at this struggle as a roadblock to successful dentistry, consider it an opportunity for implementing better medical and anesthesia By Natalie Marks, DVM

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