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But I can't afford dental radiology in my veterinary practice!

Posted in Festival of All Things Dental @ Aug 7th 2014 - By Dr Rhys Hayward, Vets First
Cant Afford Veterinary Dental Radiology Equipment

Right, I’m no accountant or financial advisor but I’m going to take on this challenge... to prove that dental radiology is absolutely affordable for the average veterinary practitioner….

We all know the benefits of dental radiology so I won’t go in to that but here are some basic sums:

  • Let’s say to get you set up costs $20,000
  • According to an online lease calculator, to pay off over 4 years at 7.95% (let’s face it, if you are paying that much ask someone else!) would cost $488 per month.  Let’s say $500 (now I have already admitted fiscal stupidity so I’m not even going to attempt to factor in depreciation and other accountancy type stuff).
  • If you charge $125 for a full mouth dental x-ray series, you only need to x-ray 4 patients per month to break even then it’s all profit.  Yes, just one patient per week.

Does dental radiology cost anything to run?

Maintenance costs are next to none unless you use a new disposable sleeve for each film exposed (we reuse them till they disintegrate which is a long time).  Sure there are some time/labour costs to factor in (it takes us from 3-4 minutes for a cat up to about 10 minutes for a large dog to get a full mouth series) but those costs are passed directly to the client.

Are 4 patients per month realistic?

You bet.

Our 2 ½ vet regional practice currently bills out over $2000 in dental radiology per month so that’s more like 4-5 patients per week.  Some weeks we will x-ray well over 10 patients.

We all know the stats of how many cats and dogs walk into our clinics with dental disease.

Does dental radiology create extra business?


The above calculations are super conservative.  Let’s say on just one of those patients you find a problem that requires a tooth extraction that you wouldn’t have picked up without the x-ray (think feline resorptive lesion, retained puppy premolar, root abscess etc.).  All of a sudden you are going to do a lengthier anaesthetic, local anaesthetic block, extract the tooth using a mucoperiosteal flap (probably) and suture the gum using packet suture.  Add that up and the bill just went up around $300.  Minus costs and you probably still make at least $200

$200 just once a month adds up to $2400 per year.

And I would suggest that this will happen more like once a week once you get started…

Anything Else?

Well, in my opinion it’s a no-brainer. 

We are talking about an additional service (not like going from conventional to digital radiology which is just an upgrade from an existing service) that will provide significant extra income as well as enabling you to provide a much better, more thorough and professionally satisfying dental service.

If you have any questions for Rhys about how he works with dental radiology in his practice, ask him in the comments section below.

Rhys studied Veterinary Science in Melbourne, graduating in 2001. He worked with Katrina in mixed practice in North-East Victoria for 2 years, then spent a year locuming throughout South Australia and New South Wales. After 3 months of travelling through Eastern Europe Rhys started at Strathalbyn and Riverport in May 2005. Rhys’ main interests include small animal surgery and emergency medicine.  He was admitted to the Australian College of Veterinary Surgeons in the field of Small Animal Surgery in 2010.  He is also a chartered member of the Australian Veterinary Association.  Rhys loves a challenging surgical case!

 You can read Rhys' Blog here: Vets First Blog  |  Click here to visit 'Vets First Riverport & Victor Central' on Facebook  |  Click here to follow 'Vets First' on Twitter


Christine Hawke @ Aug 8th 2014 10:14am
I totally agree Rhys, dental xrays pay for themselves, but it is also getting harder to cover yourself if you do miss things or if extractions go wrong if you don't have xrays. So for the patients' health, and your own peace of mind, they are a no-brainer too.
Judy @ Aug 12th 2014 1:55pm
Thanks Christine - now the key is to work out how to get the message out there!
Rhys hayward @ Aug 12th 2014 4:48pm
Hi guys sorry I missed the comments but I didn't actually realise the blog had been published until IM3 told me today at the ASAVA conference (damn Facebook telling me what I should and shouldn't see in my newsfeed...) I try not to think about any possible legal ramifications but spot on Christine it really should be considered a standard piece of equipment.
Judy @ Aug 12th 2014 5:16pm
Sorry Rhys - my fault - I forgot to give you the heads up that it was in the eNewsletter! Hope you're enjoying the conference - sorry the weather's a bit chilly.

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