Setting Up a Dental Program – Extract

The business of veterinary dentistry

The very best veterinarian will not get to perform their dental talents without client permission, education and equipment. It follows that the veterinary business will underperform in both the standard of care the client receives, and the income that could be generated because of it.

Dentistry has grown significantly over the last 20 years and in many clinics comprises a significant percentage both by service and income in the veterinary business. The business owner must actively contribute towards education of the veterinarian, nursing staff and clients, as well as, be proactive towards purchasing of necessary equipment to perform the procedure.

Setting up a dental practice begins with purchasing the proper equipment and educating the staff to diagnose and perform the procedure. The business and staff must determine what level of dentistry they are capable of and interested in performing. This can be categorised as:

  • Stage 1 – Introduction of a homecare program. This would be available to puppies, kittens and all pet’s who have received dental treatment or advice.
  • Stage 2 – A basic but thorough supra-gingival examination and teeth cleaning, including scaling and polishing.
  • Stage 3 – A complete oral examination including radiographs and performing extractions and minor periodontal surgery.
  • Stage 4 – Stage 3 plus advanced procedures including treating fractured teeth using restorative bonding, oral surgery other than extractions, basic endodontics and minor orthodontic procedures.
  • Stage 5 – Stage 4 plus more advanced or specialised procedures including orthodontic procedures, root canal procedures, implant dentistry and complex maxilla-facial surgery.

The veterinary staff must initially examine the pet’s mouth, recognise the pathology present and then explain this to the client and discuss the need to have the pathology treated, as well as the   options available with related prognosis.

All pets presented for a consultation, whether for vaccination, lameness or skin condition, should receive a thorough dental examination. The increase in dental disease that is found by simply opening the mouth, and the resulting increase in dental business, may quietly amaze you. Take a close-up picture with a digital camera and give the picture to the client to take home. This will confirm in the client’s mind that you consider their pet’s dental disease to be a real problem that needs care.

The picture will:

  • Allow the client to see the oral disease without prolonged handling of the pet’s mouth
  • Provide a document that the client can take home to show other family members
  • Be a reminder for clients that do not comply with your immediate wishes for a dental treatment
  • Permanently document your records
  • Provide a before and after record for the client, when you take another photo after the dental procedure

Encourage your client to act immediately, by convincing them of the benefit of dental treatment and review your dental procedure and fees. Explain to them that treatment of their pet’s dental problem will allow them to:

  • Live longer
  • Be healthier
  • Smell better
  • Eat better
  • Live in less pain

The level of dental care that the veterinarian and the business chooses and offers the clients will determine the set-up cost and the return on investment.

Read the full article