Discussion at the discharge appointment

Written and verbal client communication is fundamental to the maintenance of pet oral health. This dialog should address all procedures and potential complications, immediate postoperative home oral care (e.g., no brushing until surgically manipulated gingiva has healed), medications and their side effects, and any diet changes that might be necessary (e.g., soft or premoistened food in the immediate postoperative period). If clients are not properly advised of normal postanesthesia behavior and postoperative side effects affecting a pet, they may be reluctant to allow another procedure.

Sharing the patient’s dental chart, photographs, and radiographs with the client at the discharge appointment is helpful in illustrating the extent of the pre-existing pathology and effects of treatment. Clients better appreciate inapparent oral pathology once they see the visual evidence of its effects and the benefits or therapeutic intervention. See the Resource center for additional client education resources.

Establish an appointment for a follow-up or recheck examination in 10–14 days, even if the procedure performed is limited to a prophylactic cleaning. Rechecks will help determine owner compliance and the need for continued care. At the discharge appointment, clients are generally more focused on postanesthesia care than on continued oral hygiene. The recheck is an opportunity to affirm the positive steps that the owner has already taken in caring for the pet’s oral health and to establish an ongoing treatment plan.