Dental Ratios: Are You Having the "Tooth Talk" with Your Clients?

You talk to you clients about dental health as a preventive measure, but are they listening? Maybe not. According to the AAHA State of the Industry Report, 90% of clients surveyed said that discussing preventive measures like dentistry was important, but only 60% have discussed it with their veterinarian.

This is where the “Rule of Three” applies: people need to hear something three times for it to sink in. So when you talk about dental health, make sure your technical staff and your client care specialists are talking about it, too.

Improving Client Communication

Top-performing practices use key performance indicators (KPIs) called quality-of-care ratios to measure and improve both quality of patient care and financial health.

Better client communication begins once you understand the dental quality-of-care ratio.

Open Wide: A Peek Inside the Dental Ratio

When AAHA’s VMG groups calculate their dental quality-of-care ratio, they include monitoring, IV fluids, pain meds, dental rads, hospitalization, and anesthesia in addition to the service itself.

Dentals are easy to discuss when a patient has a rotting tooth, but the dental quality-of-care ratio emphasizes the importance of dentistry as a preventative measure. Those measures could be as simple as providing dental chews or a water additive. Dental cleaning when a patient is at a grade 1 or 2 is less expensive for the owner and less traumatic for the pet. Don’t wait until a pet’s teeth are falling out to recommend dental care. Instead, start having that conversation with the client while their pet is still a puppy or a kitten.

Once you’ve established clear and consistent communication, try these strategies:

  • Establish practice guidelines. Implement standardized grading scales and recommended care for each one.
  • Price it right. Charge in accordance with the dental grade.
  • Check the teeth every visit. Remember, “Flip the Lip”!
  • Use visuals. These help the client understand the importance and urgency of preventive dental care, so display them in the room.
  • Teach your technicians to teach your clients. Communication is critical when talking about dentistry.
  • Use forward booking. The average human dental practice has a 90% success rate with forward booking. In veterinary medicine, that rate is less than 10%. One way to make sure clients are following through with your recommendations is to set them up for their next appointment before they leave.

Going forward also means remembering to look back. Assign a client care specialist to check patient records over the last six months and look for notes where the doctor recommended a dental but staff didn’t book an appointment. Then start making follow-up phone calls and mailings.

Taking advantage of those missed opportunities is one more way to improve your dental quality-of-care ratio.

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