A lot has been written about equine dentistry over the past 10 years, especially on the forums. There are people who believe that dentistry should be performed only by vets and those that believe that power equipment is the best way to go.
Those of you who know me understand how I feel on this subject. But for everyone else, let me be perfectly clear. I love that dentistry is receiving the attention it deserves. More horses are getting their teeth done than ever before.
But I have a big complaint and it comes from the integrity department. It is integrity that determines if all the teeth in the mouth of a horse are addressed. It is not the equipment or the technique, though I prefer hand floats and horsemanship. It is the integrity of the dentist that determines if the horse gets the proper care.
This horse is 24 years old and his owner has had him since he was 4 years old. His teeth have been attended to over the years by the local vet who uses power equipment and by the local non-vet dentist who uses only hand floats. Both of these men missed the over-erupted hook on the last left upper cheek tooth. This long cheek tooth had been preventing the horse from closing the jaw for years.
Over-erupted cheek tooth (hook) removed from this horse’s mouth.
This horse can only eat the soft leaves of alfalfa hay, water-soaked hay cubes, and grass. He is on 16 Zantac pills a day for chronic colic. Look how he had sculpted the leading edge into a sharp point with his tongue. This point was being driven into the opposing jaw with every chew.
The mouth had a stale smell from him being unable to clean out his mouth with free movement of the tongue. All the teeth wiggled slightly from lack of tongue pressure against the teeth, which is necessary for the health of the teeth.
This is the horse where the hook was removed.
A sense of integrity is missing from most humans today in every walk of life and in every profession. But the foundation of this practice is integrity and doing what we say we are going to do. Yet after 31 years of seeing others fall short, it still gets my hackles up. Thankfully this horse’s farrier recommended us to his owners. I’ll update you as we hear about his progress.
PS – 6 1/2 years later (late 2020) this horse enjoys her life with no dental problems. And this year, 2022, she passed away at 39 years.