Effectively Communicating with Clients

Far too often, when a patient’s records are looked at retrospectively, a dental procedure has been recommended repeatedly, without the pet owner taking action until the dental issue has become such a problem that extraction is the only treatment option available. Furthermore, many clients say if they had only known, they would never have let their beloved pet’s mouth get so bad. This would indicate that the current way we communicate with clients is not sending a clear message about the importance of their pet’s oral health nor is it prompting them to take action.

Clients need to be educated on the risks of tartar buildup and gingivitis such as internal organ problems and dental disease with its associated pain and eventual tooth loss. Owners tend to be unaware of their pet’s dental issues because the pet continues to eat. You must convey to them that eating is not an accurate indicator of a pain-free mouth as most patients continue to eat even with severe oral disease. Explain that treating dental disease early, not only prevents unnecessary suffering and extractions, but can avoid a larger bill for a more extensive dental procedure in the future. Having the Vet Dental Charts open on your consult room computer with the dental pathology photos and x-rays readily accessible is helpful in educating clients of the results of not prioritising the oral health of their pet. Showing these photos and radiographs can give you the opportunity to discuss different grades of dental disease, resorptive lesions, periodontal disease, fractured teeth, gingival recession and hyperplasia, retained deciduous teeth and many more. Showing clinical photos that look normal and then showing radiographs that prove otherwise is also helpful in educating owners on the importance of dental x-ray.

From the very first visit, owners need to be taught the importance of daily oral homecare and regular professional cleanings in maintaining their pet’s oral health. Whenever a patient is seen, be it for a vaccination, skin, ear or any other presenting problem, a thorough oral examination should be incorporated into the physical examination. This will not only help in detecting dental disease early, but it will foster a new generation of pet owners who will view dental care as part of good overall care and who will come to expect a report on their pet’s mouth as much as they expect a vaccination. MAXI/GUARD® Oral Cleansing Wipes are a perfect educational aid to use in the consult room. Use one wipe to clean the pet’s mouth and then show it to the client. The client will be amazed at the amount of oral debris present in their pet’s mouth, making it much easier to promote the importance of daily dental homecare.

A nurse or veterinarian should discharge the patient after a dental procedure to discuss everything that was done during the procedure. Using the vet dental charts at this time, allows you to showcase the practice’s quality of care. The owner printouts of pathology and treatment charts, digital photos and radiographs of the pet’s mouth, show the extent and value of what has been done and also gives the owner something to refer to when checking on the pet’s home care progress. Discussing the Vet Dental Charts printable homecare instructions, allows you to outline post procedure care and medications. MAXI/GUARD® is the ideal post procedure medication as it can be used in the days immediately after a dental procedure when brushing is not possible and a soft diet is recommended. Recommendations for developing a long-term home oral care regimen should also be discussed at this time. Presenting discharge information to the pet owner in a professional package such as this is your opportunity to shine and sends a clear message that your practice takes the oral health of their pet seriously.