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Presenting Dental Treatment Plans: 5 Tips for Vet Techs

by Cathy Barnette - February 4, 2019 at 9:00 AM
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As a vet tech, you will likely be the one presenting treatment plans and cost estimates to your practice’s clients. In many cases, the veterinarian will recommend a treatment and give a brief overview, leaving you to discuss the details and provide an estimate of anticipated costs. 
One of the most common treatments recommended in small animal practice is a dental cleaning. You may find yourself presenting dental treatment plans several times a day. Therefore, it’s important to learn do this well, in a way that addresses client concerns and provides useful information about the procedure. 
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  1. Describe exactly what is included in a dental cleaning, from the moment the pet walks in the door until the pet is discharged. Clients often assume that the dental cleanings we perform on their pets are identical to the cleanings they receive at a human dentist. While there are many similarities between the two procedures, there are several key differences. Veterinary patients, unlike human patients, typically receive pre-anesthetic bloodwork, IV catheters, general anesthesia with intubation, and anesthesia monitoring during a routine dental cleaning. 
  2. Explain the purpose of each step of the dental cleaning.  While the benefits of pre-anesthetic bloodwork, IV catheterization, and anesthesia monitoring are readily apparent to those of us in the veterinary field, the benefits may not be as obvious to clients. Explain the ‘why’ behind these measures that we perform to keep our patients safe, so clients understand why they are valuable and necessary. 
  3. Encourage the client to ask questions. Clients often have questions about anesthesia safety, expected post-anesthesia recovery, whether their pet will be able to eat normal food after the procedure, and other concerns. Address these questions as thoroughly as possible, involving the veterinarian in the conversation if necessary. 
  4. Discuss costs with the client. Explain the estimated costs associated with the procedure, as well as the fact that this is only an estimate. In some cases, additional problems are detected while the pet is under anesthesia and these additional findings might change the treatment plan. Discuss how your hospital handles these changes: does the client need to be available by phone to authorize additional treatments, should the client provide an upper financial limit for what they approve, or will additional treatments be scheduled for a later date?
  5. Discuss payment options, if necessary. While few practices offer in-house payment plans, third-party providers may be available to help clients spread out the cost of their pet’s dental treatment. If a client expresses financial concerns, direct them towards resources that can help ensure their pet receives the care that it needs.
Dental care is important for the health of our small animal patients. Your success in presenting dental treatment plans can have a dramatic impact on the likelihood that pets receive this necessary care, so take the time to develop and refine an approach that is comfortable for you and well-received by your clients. 
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About Cathy Barnette

Cathy Barnette is a practicing small animal veterinarian, freelance writer, and contributor to XPrep Learning Solutions. She is passionate about both veterinary medicine and education, working to provide helpful information to veterinary teams and the general public. In her free time, she enjoys spending time in nature with her family and leading a Girl Scout troop.

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