Will this procedure hurt or be painful to my horse?
- While I would consider the dental procedure 'uncomfortable', I would not consider it painful. In fact, it is my
opinion that the great majority of horses are much more comfortable after the procedure. One of the drugs I
use during the sedation is an excellent analgesic which prevents most horses from being sore. Dentistry should
NOT be a 'bloody' event. Of course, if your horse has teeth extracted, this may not apply.
Will my horse need to be sedated for his dentistry? - And is it safe?
- Yes, all horses will need to be sedated for proper oral examination and dentistry. However, your horse will be
examined first, and great care will be exercised in the choice and amount of sedation used. Should your horse
have a heart murmur or some other problem which would preclude safe sedation, it will be discussed at that
time. The goal is to have him sedated enough to tolerate the procedure (which, while uncomfortable, is not
painful) but awake enough to stand solidly and walk out of the stall when we are finished. Every horse is an
individual, and will be dosed accordingly. If you have had any previous experience sedating your horse, and
can offer me any information regarding dose (i.e. - the last time he was very light with his drugs) it would be
I have read about power instruments, and am concerned - would hand floating be
- Some people are very vocal in their opinions on equipment. As with many things, there is more than one way
to do proper dentistry. In the wrong hands, both power equipment and hand rasps can be very dangerous. In
my opinion, power instruments are by far the better choice for use in performance dentistry. I use the more
expensive Diamond Chip coated burrs. These offer a more precise cutting surface with lower vibration than the
older/less expensive carbide burrs. Each tooth can be addressed individually, and there is little or no trauma to
the soft tissues of the mouth. The older method of hand floating can be very traumatic to both the tissues and
the horse. Some people try to say that hand rasps are more 'natural'. Think about it - what part of putting a
rasp in a horse's mouth is 'natural'?? Those people try to capitalize on the emotion that word evokes. Gentle,
effective technique, with no trauma is goal.
What is the difference between a 'lay dentist', a 'veterinarian', and a 'veterinary
- A 'lay dentist' is an individual who practices dentistry, but is not a veterinarian. While there are many fine lay
dentists out there, this is ILLEGAL in the State of Georgia. All lay dentists MUST work with a veterinarian.
They are not trained to administer sedation, there is no regulatory or disciplinary board governing them, and in
the event of an emergency, they are neither equipped nor educated enough to assist your horse. Many
veterinary practices offer dentistry because they own a 'powerfloat'. Owning an instrument does not imply
ability to use it properly. I personally have over $50,000 tied up in equipment, have received advanced training
in dentistry from both The University of Georgia and the American School of Equine Dentistry, attend dentistry
conferences yearly or more often, and have performed over 15,000 performance floats. Veterinary Medicine
has advanced so much in the last 10 years, that - like human medicine - you should expect the practitioner to
have specialized training in their field of expertise. So, there are lameness vets, repro vets, etc., and dentistry
is no different. You would not expect your personal GP (general practitioner) to work on your teeth. The bottom
line is: Get referrals before you have someone work on your horse's mouth. And - ASK QUESTIONS!
Can horses be 'Over-Floated'?
- YES! Overly aggressive dentistry can negatively affect the viability (or life) of the tooth. Not all malocclusions
can be fixed at one time. The problems may have taken years to occur, it will certainly take at least a year or
more of routinely scheduled dentistry to correct.
What exactly are 'bit seats' - and are they necessary?
- The term 'bit seats' is a misnomer that often causes confusion. A proper bit seat is simply the rounding of the
first tooth visible in the molar arcade. This should be a subtle rounding that affects only the very edge of the
tooth - and does not extend into the first pulp chamber (see Dentistry Photo page for a picture). The purpose
is to help protect the sensitive tissues of the mouth from being pinched by the upper and lower teeth. It is a
routine procedure on performance horses, and any horses that are ridden with a bit. There is absolutely NO
DANGER from a PROPERLY done bit seat, but there are many advantages.
|For further information, or to
make an appointment,
please contact me at:
Frequently Asked Questions