Considering improving dental care at your veterinary practice? Dr. Brook Niemiec talks about why dental radiography is worth the investment for the benefit of patients and the practice.
With a quick Google search, you can find dozens of websites and blogs (pets.webmd, avetsguidetolife, etc.) that discuss the importance of using dental radiography in every dental exam rather than the standard radiography equipment every veterinarian has. Most agree dental radiography can identify problems that you might otherwise miss, but the reality is that this specialized equipment is not cheap.
For a veterinarian or veterinary technician who feels strongly that their practice needs dental radiology to improve patient care, what are the best ways to propose that investment? What are the best implementation practices?
Brook Niemiec, DVM, DAVDC, FAVD, DAVDC, talks to Dr. Natalie Marks in the Quick Cup of Knowledge video “Dental Radiography” about why dental radiography is worth the investment from the perspective of a client, an owner or practice manager, and a team member.
For the Client
Some veterinarians may think their practice can’t afford this equipment because clients will not pay for those examinations. However, patients undoubtedly benefit from the improvement in care that dental radiology brings, and in most cases, a client will pay for better quality care.
To educate clients, Dr. Niemiec believes using visuals or images is effective and powerful. A picture is worth a thousand words! When clients see x-rays from a case similar to their own companion animal's, they will want to relieve the pain they didn’t realize was there.
As a client sees an example of a possible issue beneath the gums, something undetectable to the naked eye, they will understand the need for this equipment. Or when you show them what could happen if a doctor performs an extraction without seeing an x-ray beforehand (you could accidentally break the jaw, leave tooth fragments, etc.), the client will feel comfortable with the prescribed treatment plan.
Whether you use a visual already made from a site like vetdentalrad.com (Dr. Niemiec’s telemedicine website) or you make one yourself, respectfully educating your clients about the necessity of dental radiology for high-quality dental care will increase trust and raise patients’ quality of life.
For the Owner/Management
When asked how a veterinarian could approach an owner or practice manager about getting dental radiology equipment, Dr. Niemiec says, "There is simply not one piece of equipment that will make more money for a practice than dental radiology."
Him and his colleagues’ experiences have repeatedly proven that statement, according to Dr. Niemiec. Many apprehensive veterinarians who have heard him speak or teach, he says, has followed up to say that dental radiology has been one of the best investments their practice has made.
In effect, useful talking points when speaking to an owner or manager include the revenue this equipment will bring in and the opportunity to improve the quality of care.
For the Team
Because a veterinarian may have 20–30 minutes with a client, educating them about dental radiography can be difficult given the time constraint. Dr. Niemiec is a proponent of something he calls a “dental concierge.”
The dental concierge position is a way for veterinary technicians who love dentistry to become highly trained in general dental procedures, anesthesia, and pain management. They become the go-to person on the team who explains to clients why dentistry is so important to overall health and why it’s expensive.
There are many resources and hands-on experiences available that enable your team to improve. Dr. Niemiec recommends avdc.org to get in touch with veterinary dentists in your area and the hands-on dental course he teaches at WVC Academy.
Efficiently educating clients and having a team approach is key to improving the quality of dental care at your practice. Dental radiography empowers your clients and your team, and your whole practice benefits.
Is dental radiology worth the investment? You bet it is.
Reserve your seat in the comprehensive Double Down on Dentistry course coming to WVC in August!
You can also hurry to enroll in the Comprehensive Small Animal Dentistry course that Dr. Niemiec teaches this month!
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