Are you the veterinary tooth fairy?


The elusive, bicuspid-loving tooth fairy is making money from her work with teeth. Are you?

Just like the tooth fairy, your veterinary practice makes money from its work with teeth. But are you making the total revenue you could be making? How surprised would you be to know oral disease is the most common problem in veterinary medicine? By age 3, most dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease, yet we're either missing it ourselves or not educating our clients about the importance of oral care. When we don't educate our team members and our clients, pets don't get the care they need and the practice loses thousands in potential revenue a year.

Don't believe me yet? Consider this example. Say you generate $260 to $500 per periodontal scaling, so on average about $380. With those numbers, if you see 10 patients in a day, that means eight of them have some type of oral-related changes due to periodontal disease. Say you convince four of those clients to have dental cleanings and you perform procedures four days a week. That's a potential earning of about $6,000 a week, totaling almost $300,000 a year.

It takes a tooth-loving team

If you've got a niggling feeling these numbers aren't obtainable, let me reassure you that they are. It's all about rethinking how you're offering your services, coupled with adding specific fees, training your team, streamlining your process and providing the proper dental equipment. And honestly, if you're wanting to increase the number of procedures performed, you need complete buy-in from your veterinary team.

The cold hard tooth

Say you have four dental procedures per day and you schedule dentals five days a week. You convince three out of the four clients to have full mouth dental radiographs at a cost of $75 per patient. At 15 patients per week, that's an additional profit of $1,125 per week. And with an estimated 50 working weeks per year, that's $56,250 of potential earnings around dental radiology.

Make sure your team is properly educated and trained on dental techniques. Create team-building strategies around your standards to get the whole team on board. This is crucial so you're ready to educate clients about oral care both before and after a dental cleaning and discuss estimates for procedures.

Recs on recommendations

We can also grow into dentistry by improving our pre-surgical screening recommendations, such as bloodwork, urinalysis, electrocardiograms or radiographs. More comprehensive anesthetic care and testing will allow for safer procedures with minimal risk of complications.

Offering clients additional treatment options such as dental radiology, Oravet, bonded sealants, nerve blocks, pain management and fluoride therapies, are also more efficient ways to offer higher standard of oral care. Making these recommendations as part of the plan when discussing estimates should increase your average dental transactions by 35 to 45 percent.

Remember, radiology is rad

Dental radiology is a perfect addition to any veterinary dental plan. It provides veterinarians the opportunity to evaluate the oral cavity more comprehensively for abnormalities that may need to be addressed.

Want your clients to say yes to dental radiographs? Start by investing the time to train your team to talk about why dental radiographs are so important for comprehensive oral care.

If you're trying to justify a dental radiography equipment purchase, consider this: With the right strategy, you could pay off your purchase in as short as three to six months, if you market your services correctly.

Serving the dental needs of our patients is opportunity to improve pets' health-and generate needed revenue at your practice. It's time to take after our fellow fang-favoring tooth fairy friend and learn to love working with teeth.

Roger Zinn, CVPM, is ER Administrator and partner at Animal ER of Northwest Houston.

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