Sit, shake, show your pearly whites

The veterinary school is one of four in the nation to have a full-time dentist.

Jerret Raffety

TTHE U’S VET CENTER OFFERS DENTAL CARE FOR PETS

There are drills, scalers, dental lights and X-ray units. The room looks like any ordinary dentist office.

But its patients walk on all fours and have tails.

The patients are animals, and more and more of them are coming in to the rapidly growing veterinary dental service at the University’s Veterinary Medical Center.

Since the office opened in 2002, the dental service business is growing approximately 25 percent per year, said Gary Goldstein, a veterinary dentist at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

One possible reason for this is that the college is the fourth veterinary school in the nation to have a full-time dentist, Goldstein said.

That works well for northeast Minneapolis resident Glenda Houston. On Tuesday, Houston brought her two cats, Yo-Yo Meow and Basil, to the dental service because it’s close to her home.

“I never had any reason to have another veterinarian, because this one is 15 minutes from my house,” Houston said. “Dr. Goldstein is so good; I wish he was my doctor.”

While he normally treats cats and dogs, Goldstein said he has also treated larger animals such as horses, llamas and alpacas.

Patients can get a wide variety of services, such as oral surgeries, oral-disease treatments, radiology, orthodontic work, teeth cleanings and treatment for oral trauma.

“We basically handle any oral problems,” Goldstein said.

The dental service is primarily a referral service, taking patients from other veterinary dental services statewide, he said.

The service treats approximately 1,500 cases per year, Goldstein said.

For some, the expertise, speed and accommodations attracted them to the dental service, they said.

Larry Loonsfoot, of Coon Rapids, Minn., brought his dog, Scout, in Tuesday to check how well the dog’s fractured jaw was healing.

“When you have a traumatic event like this, it’s good to get the best care possible,” Loonsfoot said. “Scout got walked every day here.”

Goldstein said the staff includes two technicians, a dental resident and three students.

“I try to make this experience like a real life practice (for students),” Goldstein said.

Melissa Hoffer, a fourth-year doctor of veterinary medicine candidate, said that she and fellow fourth-year veterinary medical students rotate through different departments and responsibilities in the College of Veterinary Medicine every two weeks.

Her duties with the veterinary dental service include patient and client care.

Hoffer must feed patients, check their vitals, give them medication and give them any necessary special attention, she said.

For clients, she must make sure their concerns are addressed, their questions are answered and they are informed about their animal’s status.

“We’re supposed to be learning while we’re at it,” Hoffer said.

Because business is growing, Goldstein also said, he is looking to hire more staff members.