New equipment is just cool. It's shiny, comes with lots of bells and whistles, and keeps your job interesting. And if the
practice makes a sound investment, it allows you to do your job better. But how do you know which items are more than just
high-tech toys? Go straight to the source: In this case, veterinary hospital staffers who use practice management software,
in-house diagnostics, digital dental radiology, and therapy laser on a daily basis. These technologies benefit both the team
members' practices and patients—and they can help yours too.
Dental digital radiography
Estimated cost: $3,000 to $12,000
How it helps the patient: Unnecessary extractions become a thing of the past. "We want dogs and cats to keep as many teeth in their mouths as possible,"
says Lori Bollinger, RVT, a dental technician at Camelot Court Animal Clinic in Leawood, Kan. "When I discover a dental abnormality
such as a pocket in the gumline, an enamel defect, or color change, I can take a radiograph to determine whether the tooth
needs to be extracted. It's much more precise. Before we had the ability to do radiographs, we extracted more teeth because
we were playing a guessing game." Radiographs are also instantaneous. If veterinary technicians don't get the right angle
on the first shot, they can take another. This is especially beneficial to pets, who are sedated while the radiographs are
being taken. "When an animal is under anesthesia, every minute counts," Bollinger says.
How it helps the practice: "It's another service we can charge for," says Bollinger, whose practice bills $18 per radiograph. "We feel good about this
because we only take one if we need it. People get really nervous when you talk about extractions because they don't want
their pet to lose any teeth. They're not worried about an $18 charge if we can save the tooth." Also, having such advanced
technology inspires confidence in clients. "I think people are impressed," Bollinger says. "It's made our dental program much
more comprehensive and has added a whole other dimension to dentistry."
How it helps the team: As a rule, dentistry provides an excellent area for technicians to focus on and advance their careers. For example, at Camelot
Court, not everyone can take digital radiographs. "It takes some skill and a lot of practice to get it right," says Bollinger,
who took classes to learn how to get precise pictures of each tooth. "We take x-rays of the premolar number 4 tooth most often,
a three-rooted tooth which can be challenging. But it's an important tooth for a dog, so you want to save it if possible."
And most often they can, because the image allows Bollinger to see potential problems that a change in color or enamel might
not always point to. "We know we've done the best we can and we don't have to guess anymore," she says. "I feel really good