Young Joo Kim, DVM, MS, with patient, Lupin, in the WesternU Pet Health Center dental suite. (Mirza Hasanefendic, WesternU)

The Western University of Health Sciences Pet Health Center has opened its new Dental Suite, aimed at improving dental health for community pets and providing a learning opportunity for students.

The suite is located in what had been a general storage area. It has sliding glass doors, a new digital X-ray system, a big-screen television monitor and enough room for several students to observe and assist in the procedures.

“The dental X-ray system is all digital, so you can see the images quickly on the big-screen TV,” said Hospital Manager Jennie Jennings. “It also stores the images in medical records and generates a report card for the pet owners.”

There are two new mobile carts with attached moveable arms and tubing for use with various instruments, IV pumps, air and water. The equipment can be stored when not in use.

The suite also has new anesthesia equipment, various specialized instruments, and an adjustable table that can be set to a comfortable working height. The pets lie on the table and rest their heads. While under anesthesia, they are kept warm by a temperature-controlled blanket.

Registered veterinary technicians perform oral exams and clean teeth by scaling and polishing, Jennings said. Extractions and other complicated procedures are done by a center veterinarian.

Third- and fourth-year students assist with the dental procedures, including anesthesia administration and patient monitoring. When they graduate, their skills in dentistry will be an advantage in the job market because of increasing awareness about pet dental problems and growing demand for treatment, said David Clark, DVM, DAVBP, hospital director of the Pet Health Center.

Some studies suggest that 70 percent of cats and 80 percent of dogs have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old, Clark said. Untreated dental disease can lead to other health issues, including heart, liver, and kidney problems.

The center averages four appointments a week. Its dental patients are largely dogs and cats, “although occasionally we will get a rabbit that needs its teeth shaved,” Jennings said.

The $40,000 project was jointly funded by the Pet Health Center and WesternU.

The WesternU Pet Health Center is at 611 E. Second St., Pomona, Calif. 91766. Call 909-865-2433 to make an appointment. Visit the WesternU Pet Health Center website for more information.


-Catherine Gaugh