Q&A: Mouthing off on oral veterinary care


Wish your veterinary clients brushed their pets' teeth everyday? Here's how to spread awareness.

Q I'm frustrated with some of our clients who don't notice their pets' dental health needs until pets are in pain. What can we do to get clients' attention?

Use lip flips to take a bite out of resistance, says Patricia March, CVT, VTS (Dentistry), president of the Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians. Ideally, you want pet owners to brush their pets' teeth every day. But for pet owners who refuse to brush, looking in the mouth might offer a first step to help build awareness of the pet's oral care needs. March teaches pet owners how to look at their pet's mouth regularly so they're more aware of changes. She starts by demonstrating how to gently touch the mouth. When the pet grows used to this, pet owners can progress by putting a finger in the pet's mouth so the animal gets used to the feel of the finger.

"We tell people, if you're playing with your pet or giving a treat, get a little closer and look into the mouth. You don't need to crank open the jaw and make it uncomfortable for them, but just lift the lip and look at one area," March says. "Look in the front, look in the back, but don't try to do it all at once."

March says it's also important to teach clients the value of prevention. "Every member of the team needs to talk about dental care to clients," she says. "You can never say it enough. Prevention is key with dental disease."

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