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Book More Dentals with These 4 Expert Tips

Updated: Apr 12

It’s common knowledge amongst those in the veterinary industry that dental disease is one of the most serious and widespread conditions in adult dogs and cats. Yet, for whatever reason, oral health care remains a low priority for pet owners. Not only does prioritizing dental care help keep patients happier and healthier, but it also means a better bottom line for you. If you could use a little help in this area, here are four tips for getting clients to say ‘yes’ to dental exams.

Don’t just tell. Show

As an experienced vet, you know the difference between a healthy mouth and a diseased one, but you should never just assume your clients know the same. If you notice oral health concerns, like plaque buildup or inflamed gums, don’t just talk about it with the pet owner. Show them. Explain what it is you’re seeing and, more importantly, why it concerns you.

And be detailed. For example, “See how Samson’s teeth are yellowed? This could be a sign of gingivitis, which could cause a lot of other health problems for him if we don’t it under control. To find out for sure what’s going on, we really need to look below the gum line.” That’s far more impactful and convincing than saying something like, “You really should consider a dental exam.”

Showing and telling your clients in greater detail also opens the door for questions and allows you to start a dialogue that can help strengthen your connection.

Communicate your proposed treatment plan

Once you’ve fully explained and demonstrated the need for dental care, the next step is going over the estimate. This is something most vets dread, because it can cause sticker shock and leave clients backpedaling. To prevent this, change the perspective. For example, rather than “estimate,” use the term “treatment plan.” This takes the focus off the cost and places it on the medical care.

Sit your client down and go over your proposed plan of action, step-by-step. Again, being thorough is always the best way to win a client’s approval. Explain why each step is necessary and what it will accomplish. For instance, “First, we’ll have to sedate Samson using an anesthetic induction. This is necessary because it will help keep him safe and comfortable during the procedure.”

Open the floor for questions and take your time answering them patiently. Understand that while dental procedures are an everyday occurrence for you, they can be mysterious and therefore stressful for a pet owner.

Bonus Tip: Try to allow a little bit of wiggle room in your treatment plan for ancillary charges, such as post-op medications. Having to surprise your client with an additional $150 fee at discharge will not be a positive experience for either party.

Get the whole team onboard

You’ve got an awesome team running your practice. Put them to use! Train and instruct your vet techs and assistants to perform dental assessments. Have them assist with educating clients on how to brush their pets’ teeth at home and recommend dental care products. Doing this empowers your staff while also reinforcing to clients the consistent message of the importance of ongoing dental care.

Closing the loop with a forward-booking policy can also help improve compliance with dental care. For instance, the technician and/or assistant assesses the patient’s teeth and gums, the DVM confirms the evaluation, recommends an appropriate treatment plan and the receptionist completes the process by getting the client to book a dental appointment at checkout. This is much more effective than having to chase the client after the fact.

Make it an internal priority

You’d be surprised at how many practices treat dental care as an afterthought. Even if it’s on your radar, simply instructing your team to focus on dentistry at the next staff meeting isn’t going to move the needle on dental compliance.

As the practice owner or practice manager, it’s up to you to make sure your team is armed with everything they need to make dental care a priority in your practice. If that means internal training, external continuing education, role-playing exercises or something else, so be it. Having a highly skilled, confident and empowered staff will do wonders for getting clients to feel good about investing in dental care.

In addition to training, you should also set goals for your practice that you can use to measure progress. Remember to make your goals SMART; that is, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. For example, if you currently do 5 dentals a month, you might set a goal to increase that to 10 by X date. Identify opportunities and teach your team to be proactive about promoting dental care. Make it a part of your overall practice vision and you’ll begin to see amazing things happen.


Dentistry is a segment of care that is necessary, yet surprisingly neglected by many in the industry. By following the steps above, you can take advantage of this great opportunity to improve patient care and boost your bottom line at the same time.

Our Advice on Book More Dentals with These 4 Expert Tips in 2024

What role does preventive dental care play in overall pet health?

Preventive dental care is critical in maintaining overall pet health, as dental disease can lead to serious systemic issues. Regular dental assessments and cleanings prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar, reducing the risk of periodontal disease. This disease can cause infections that may spread through the bloodstream, affecting vital organs and leading to severe health complications. By prioritizing preventive dental care, veterinary professionals can help prevent these outcomes, ensuring pets remain healthier, happier, and potentially avoiding costly medical treatments in the future.

Why is it important to make dental care an internal practice priority?

Making dental care an internal practice priority is essential because it directly impacts patient health and practice success. Dental diseases are prevalent and can lead to significant systemic health issues in pets, including heart and kidney disease. Prioritizing dental care elevates the standard of patient care, improves health outcomes, and enhances client satisfaction. It also represents an opportunity for practice growth, as improved dental services can attract new clients and increase revenue. Furthermore, a team well-versed in dental care can more effectively educate pet owners, fostering a proactive approach to pet health and strengthening client-practice relationships.

What are common client objections to dental procedures, and how can veterinary staff effectively address them?

Common client objections to dental procedures include concerns about cost, anesthesia safety, and the necessity of the procedure. Veterinary staff can address these effectively by thoroughly explaining the health implications of untreated dental issues, demonstrating the potential for more severe and costly problems down the line. Discussing anesthesia with transparency, highlighting modern safety protocols, and providing clear, detailed estimates can alleviate financial worries. Offering payment plans or discussing pet insurance options may also help. Educating clients on the long-term benefits of dental care for their pets' overall health and quality of life is key.

What are safe and modern anesthesia protocols for dental procedures, particularly for older pets or those with health concerns?

Safe and modern anesthesia protocols for dental procedures, especially for older pets or those with health concerns, involve a comprehensive pre-anesthetic assessment, including blood work and, if needed, imaging to evaluate organ function and identify any underlying health issues. Tailoring anesthesia plans to each individual pet, using the latest in monitoring technology to track vital signs closely during the procedure, and employing multimodal pain management strategies are all critical. These approaches minimize risks and ensure the pet's safety and comfort. Pre- and post-operative care, including hydration and temperature regulation, further enhance safety for these sensitive cases.

What strategies can veterinarians use to overcome client resistance to dental exams?

Veterinarians can overcome client resistance to dental exams by employing educational strategies that highlight the link between oral health and overall wellness. Demonstrating tangible examples of dental issues and their systemic impacts can make the need for preventive care more relatable. Offering visual aids, like dental charts or images of successful treatments, can also clarify the benefits. Transparent discussions about costs, including breakdowns of treatment plans and potential long-term savings from preventive care, address financial concerns. Lastly, personalizing the conversation to the pet's specific needs and risks fosters trust and understanding, making clients more receptive to recommendations.

For more practice management tips, tricks, and expert advice, bookmark the DVMelite blog and check back often for fresh content.

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