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Posted 01.13.05
 
 
   

Pfizer To Fund New Vet Dentistry Lab

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Recent research reveals that dogs and cats three years and older have an 80 to 85 percent chance of acquiring dental disease. If left untreated, the family pet could suffer heart, liver and kidney damage, resulting in a shorter life span. For animal lovers who want the best in dental health for their pet, the University of Missouri-Columbia will open a veterinary dentistry laboratory to train students and licensed veterinarians.

Richard Meadows, a clinical associate professor for the University's College of Veterinary Medicine, secured a $76,000 gift from Pfizer Animal Health, the largest animal health company in the nation, to fund the laboratory.

"There is a large demand for more veterinary dentists," Meadows said. "There are approximately 75 board-certified veterinarians who can perform dentistry in the United States and probably less than 100 in the world. This training facility will be the only one in Missouri and will be one of only three permanent sites in the United States that I am personally aware of where this type of group training can occur for veterinary students and graduate veterinarians."

According to Michael Cavanaugh, director of the Pfizer Veterinary Specialty Team, the company currently is piloting similar partnerships at two other veterinary schools in the country.

"The educational dental suite at MU's College of Veterinary Medicine is a prime example of a program that we believe will support not only students and the University, but ultimately the profession and veterinary patients as a whole," Cavanaugh said. "I found Dr. Meadows' enthusiasm, passion and vision to be very contagious. We are very pleased to provide a grant to the College of Veterinary Medicine in support of the dentistry program."

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The grant will be used to purchase multiple sets of hand instruments used to clean and extract teeth, dental X-ray machines and 15 air-driven instruments used by human and veterinary dentists to grind, shape and polish teeth. Although several veterinary dentistry procedures mimic the work dentists do to human teeth, Meadows said there is a huge difference between the two fields – animal teeth come in many shapes and sizes.

"Most human dentists would be hard pressed to do much on veterinary patients without additional training because of some important anatomical and physiological differences in the veterinary species," Meadows said. "For example, the teeth of veterinary patients can differ as much as the multiple sets of teeth a shark has, to the constantly growing teeth of many of the herbivorous animals, to the huge fang teeth of a tiger."

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