February is National Dental Health Month, putting the annual spotlight on dental care. But Dr. Scott Linick, FAVD, owner of
Plainfield Animal Hospital in South Plainfield, N.J., knows the importance of dental care, and not just during Dental Health
Month. He uses two methods for encouraging clients to take better care of their pets' teeth year round.
Dental unit: Dr. Scott Linick's high- and low-speed dental unit has a three-way water syringe. The suspended arm over the
table alleviates clutter.
1. Help clients overcome fears. Dr. Linick says clients' fear of anesthesia is their most common reason for refusing a dental procedure, trumping monetary
concerns. "I show clients that we practice a higher standard of care," he says. He explains to clients that all his patients
must have pre-anesthetic blood profiles completed within the two months prior to the procedure, and that during the procedure
all patients receive:
- intravenous fluids
- anesthetic monitoring (ECG, pulse oximetry, blood pressure, and CO2)
- supplemental heat
- multimodal pain prevention—both local and general pain medications are used.
The result, Dr. Linick says, is that pet owners' perception of value is higher, they're comfortable with the anesthetic process,
and they're happy to pay the extra costs associated with these safety procedures.
2. Be persistent. "A dental exam must be part of every exam," Dr. Linick says. "If the client is resistant to a cleaning, I put a reminder
in the computer for three months from that date." He then reminds the client at each subsequent exam that the pet's teeth
aren't getting any better, the pet isn't getting any younger, and that there are systemic consequences to an unhealthy mouth.