How every team member cares for teeth
Everyone plays an important part in making sure pets receive the dental care they need. What?s your role?
It’s hard to watch a client walk out the door with a pet that desperately needs a dental cleaning. But you can reduce the number of pets suffering from oral health issues by ensuring that you fulfill your role in educating clients and caring for pets. Here’s what you can do:
You’re the practice’s frontline of care, and it’s your job to ask the critical questions about what’s going on with patients. Your goal is to get the client to the practice so a trained eye can look at the pet’s mouth. When clients show up for a routine visit, remind them that their pets need regular dental cleanings. Reminders plant the seed for regular dental care, so when technicians and veterinarians offer dental recommendations, clients will be more receptive.
You play an important role by restraining the pet during exams to make sure the doctor can properly assess the pet’s oral health condition. You may also brush pets’ teeth and teach clients how to properly care for their pets’ teeth.
You’re responsible for team training and client education programs. Community awareness programs may include hospital tours, charity events, or an open house with activities such as brushing clinics and free dental assessments. You may also organize team-training events, such as education about new products.
You assess the pet’s oral health and pass the information to the doctor, who will conduct a thorough exam. Your responsibilities may also include dental cleaning under the supervision of a veterinarian and in accordance with your state’s laws, as well as monitoring the pet during oral surgery and recovery. Finally, you educate the pet owner about the procedures the pet underwent and make sure that the client understands their responsibility for ongoing care.
Now if you’re worried about being pigeonholed in your practice as the tooth cleaner, don’t worry. Technicians who focus on dentistry don’t spend every day staring into the mouths of pets, says Christine Chevalier, LVT, from Plainfield Animal Hospital in Plainfield, N.J.
“I think dental care is perfect for those looking for the next step to harness all of their skills,” she says. “You will use every single skill you have, from inducing patients and monitoring them postoperatively to making sure they’re doing better at home and resuming their normal regimens.”
For example, Chevalier says she often practices skills she learned for anesthesia, surgical assisting, and medical and clinical care. “It’s often instant gratification,” she says. “You start with a really nasty mouth with really nasty tartar, and by the end you see this gleaming pearly white mouth and beautiful, healthy pink tissue.”
Portia A. Stewart is a freelance writer and former Firstline editor in Lenexa, Kan.