Dental health should be a year-round discussion, but National Pet Dental Month (every February) is a great time to reemphasize the significance of oral care and its impact on a pet’s quality of life, according to pet expert Steve Dale, CABC.

In this latest episode of The Vet Blast Podcast, Dale and Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, debunk some common client pet dental health myths and offer some tips for educating pet owners about this topic.

There seems to be a miscommunication between veterinarians and their clients after a tooth cleaning, says Dale. Many pet parents misinterpret a veterinarian who says, “Great, no problem. Your pet now has clean teeth.” Instead, they hear, “Oh, there is no problem, and we didn’t need to do this in the first place.” As the veterinarian or technician, you have to fill in those gaps, he explains.

Christman agrees. There’s a big misconception among pet parents that once they brush their pet’s teeth, everything will magically resolve itself. Depending on the severity of the situation, they could actually be doing more harm than good, says Christman. If a pet has serious tartar accumulation, receding gumlines, tooth damage and decay, and bone loss, they need to go to a veterinarian or dentist who can perform the necessary periodontal work. “I think [client] education is really key and having the whole team discuss it is important too,” he explains.

Not sure when to talk about dental care? Dale’s recommendation: Do it when clients are checking out. “I think that is the best time because the pet parent is vulnerable, in a way to listen,” he says, adding that you should let them know that their next appointment doesn’t have to be within the next 6 months. “It can be a year and a half or longer from now if you do this and this,” says Dale, adding that this approach may motivate clients to follow through with dental care.

Listen below for more useful tips for educating your clients about dental health.