The release of the 2013 American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats probably has a few veterinary practices evaluating and aiming to improve their preventive oral healthcare procedures this year. Packed with details about educating clients on the importance of routine dental care for their animals as well as information about the proper equipment and materials to perform medically appropriate dental procedures, the guidelines set the standard for practicing the highest quality dental care possible. But in order for veterinary practices to really do better, it’s going to take more than just resolve.
It takes a lot of time, money and energy to do everything the guidelines recommend, but it’ll be well worth it, says Brian Conrad, CVPM, practice manager for Meadow Hills Veterinary Centers in Kennewick, Wash., and contributor to Veterinary Economics and Firstline. “It’s all hands on deck if you’re going to implement the guidelines the right way,” he says.
Conrad explains that since the AAHA guidelines are written from a clinical perspective with veterinarians and technicians in mind, it’s critical that practices get the entire team on board with a plan before oral healthcare recommendations are given to clients in the exam room. Not only is it critical that your practice has the right equipment and staff expertise to perform the recommended procedures, but it’s also important to make sure your team is prepared to discuss preventive care with pet owners, get them in the door to have the work done and stress the importance of follow-up home care and yearly dental visits.
“No matter how many dental procedures you do this year, it’s meaningless if clients aren’t coming back the next year for follow-up care,” says Conrad.
For a step-by-step plan to help implement these dental guidelines in your practice and to make preventive oral healthcare a priority, visit dvm360.com/dentalplan and download a gameplan for making it happen.