Q&A: No downside to dental care-even at home

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Won't recommending home dental care actually decrease the number of cleanings we do in our clinic?

Home dental care is essential for patient health—and bonding clients—says Lori Bollinger, RVT, dental technician at Camelot Court Animal Clinic in Leawood, Kan. “In our clinic, we establish trust with clients by making sure they know that we care about their pets,” she says. “We’ll educate them about all the things that are in the best interest of their pet and make all the appropriate recommendations.”

Among those recommendations is home dental care. The team at Camelot Court customizes home care suggestions for each client based on how hands-on he or she wants to be. “But no matter how diligent our clients are about brushing and home care, we’ll probably still have to do some dentistry on their pet,” Bollinger says.

Sometimes, though, clients need some convincing. That’s where education comes into play.

Bollinger recalls an instance at her practice when a client brought in her cat for a second opinion after getting a dental cleaning at another practice. The other veterinarian had discovered the need to extract eight teeth, but had not prepared the client for that possibility. The client declined the extractions. At Camelot Court, when the owner arrived to pick up the cat, the team showed her the problem areas in the cat’s mouth and explained how these spots could affect its behavior—educational steps the client’s previous practice hadn’t taken. Pain prescription in hand, the client left to observe the cat at home. A few days later, after noticing how much happier the cat was with pain management, the client returned to have the teeth removed.

“Client involvement is crucial when promoting dental care,” Bollinger says. “If you start out educating your clients about what is important regarding routine maintenance for their pets, they won’t hesitate to trust you when dental cleanings, surgeries, or other unexpected—and sometimes costly—situations arise.”

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