A CASE FOR EQUINE DENTISTRY WITH POWER TOOLS
JR Meets the Dentist
When JR had his first general examination and fall shots as a yearling, the vet said to me that his teeth were great. "This is a horse that will need to be floated maybe never or once every 3-5 years or so. He has excellent teeth." We were both proud. The vet. peeked in his mouth the next two years for his general examination and last year, he did float his teeth. It didn't take long…and we were all proud of JR's mouth.
A famous Equine Dentist moved to Kansas City and gave a demonstration speech and then worked on various horses during the Longview Horse Park Trail ride last October. My friend is a new horse owner as well as a medical doctor. She was fascinated by the dentist's performance, the ugly things discovered in horses' mouth and the pain free result.
She decided to have the dentist come to her barn. Perhaps she could get some of her barn people to employ the dentist. Nope. She offered me the opportunity to engage the dentist and I jumped at it. I've been to two equine dentists' presentation before. I need no more convincing. Velvet has been worked on by an equine vet dentist specialist traveling from Lincoln. Our own vet now has a power tool to help float teeth while using the speculum. Life is good.
Who would I take? I can afford two horses. It's a given that Velvet gets to go. She never has eaten normally. She always spills grain. And, my next oldest. JR. Hay! I'm going to start riding JR with a bit pretty soon. He needs a bit seat. The dentist won't find anything in JR's mouth, but a bit seat is something that he does need.
The big day came and we arrived at the barn. The dentist had just finished two year old Jazz. He had an infected baby tooth in his front teeth. His breath stank…not that anyone noticed it until the dentist propped open his mouth. The horse before him was young too. He had some extensive remodeling in his mouth so he could chew without biting his cheek.
Oh hum…it's JR's turn. The moment of truth came after the speculum was inserted and the dentist's head light illuminated the inside of his mouth. Oh dear. I saw scar marks, chew marks and a big fat abscess on one cheek. His teeth were razor sharp and when he ate, the razors tore up his left cheek. The dentist vet said that he had started chewing up and down like humans do instead of side to side like horses do. Chewing up and down doesn't get the food ground up nearly as much as the normal sideways chewing. Visions of colic leaped into my head.
My perfect JR was the winner of the worst mouth in the stable! His cost was $50 more than any other horse and we are now thrilled to be on the 6 month schedule.
The dentist said that she likes to see horses as young as 6-7 months. She can fix things then that can't be correct later like a mild parrot mouth. The cost for young weanlings is only $50…well worth a lifetime of teeth problems and pain. Remember mouth pain can result in horses dangerous to humans!
The main point of my story is to have your vet put a speculum put in your horse's mouth. A lot of regular vets now have them along with the power tools. At least you'll be able to see whether or not your horse might be in a lot of pain that could be FIXED!
JR now makes that comforting munching noise when he eats his hay. I didn't realize that this sound was missing before JR MET the Equine Vet Dentist!