Providing oral health services and public information

In honor of National Pet Dental Health Month, discover how you can maximize social media to help clients understand the importance of pet oral care.

Have you ever had a client say, “Doc, you can’t just pull the teeth right now?” to a pet with severe stage 4 periodontal disease? It got me thinking whether there is a perception deception in veterinary dentistry. As we are well into National Pet Dental Health Month, I wanted to share my experience in both the social media setting and veterinary space with pets and oral health.

Clients are very passionate about their pet’s oral health. I can tell you this: When I host my TikTok live streams on my channel, @dr.adamchristman52, about half the questions that come in are dental-related related. Here are the top 5 requested questions I always receive from viewers:

  1. How do I brush my pet’s teeth?
  2. What toothpaste can I use for my pet?
  1. Do pets really have to go under anesthesia for a dental cleaning?
  2. What are some good dental treats and water additives you can recommend?
  3. Why is a dental cleaning so expensive?

Veterinarians, veterinary technicians, receptionists, and veterinary dentists do an incredible job in educating and recommending oral preventive and treatment care to animals, yet clients are still asking about it online. Do you think there’s a disconnect from when they leave your practice to when they go online and do their own homework about it? Do you think there is false advertising for various pet dental products that are overpromising and underdelivering effective dental solutions? Personally, I think pet owners do not truly know the 4 stages of dental disease in their pets.

Let’s face it. Pet owners talk to other pet owners. I’ll never forget a situation where I had 2 clients compare their estimates in the reception area and question why one received an estimate of $1500 and the other received one for $800. I remember chatting with both clients and clearly explaining the differences between a prophylactic cleaning vs one that would require several extractions. They completely understood, as it made sense to them, and they booked the dental procedures!

Here are a few ideas to consider when recommending a dental procedure to a prospective client:

  1. Show a video of the equipment and labor involved in a dental procedure. This can include the anesthesia monitoring equipment, dental radiology unit, dental machine, the dental anesthetic technician, veterinarian, and support staff. I have seen a practice talk to the camera as if they were speaking to the dog or cat and showing them the entire day of what their visit will look like. Brilliant marketing!
  2. Social media posts with Instagram stories. Poll your audience about the urgency of oral care. Remember, polls and multiple choice questions on Instagram provide you with free data and lets you know who your top cheerleader clients are for your practice
  3. Do a Facebook or Instagram live with your audience, answering the most common questions related to oral care in pets, from pediatrics to geriatrics.
  4. Capture testimonials from previous clients and staff members’ pets who have had a dental procedure performed on their pet at your practice. Hearing from other clients helps provide comfort and trust to your team.
  5. Take pictures! Before and after pictures speak volumes. Remember, no client wants to see blood, but showing a beautiful gingival flap and following up with a picture of the flap recheck in 2 weeks will truly resonate with clients. Customers love to see before and after pictures of dirty teeth and clean teeth.

My final plea to my colleagues is this: Please recommend oral home care products and chew toys for pets to safely consume or chew on. It is a constant battle between what clients see online vs what we as veterinary professionals recommend for dental care. Be sure your message is consistent throughout the hospital and that everyone is on the same page with your at-home care recommendations.

Really, Pet Dental Health Month is every month! Thank you for all you do in keeping our pets’ oral health in check!

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