Equine Dentistry – Beware the Tooth Fairy!

Equine Dentistry - Beware the tooth fairy

The term Equine Dentist is misleading and not recognised by any regulatory body in Australia. It has connotations that the “dentist “is formally trained like a human dentist with a 4-5 year university degree in dentistry. Sadly this is not the case, which leaves the horse owning public vulnerable to at best, well-meaning but incompetent operators or at worst shonky operators. They may be no more than smooth talking horse handlers who can run a rasp (or a machine) over a heap of horses’ teeth in a day.

In the last decade we have seen many horses with mouths maltreated by non-veterinary dentistry operators. The most common fault arises from not gaining access to the very back of the horse’s mouth so leaving the very back teeth unrasped.

More distressing are the cases where overgrinding has killed teeth and/or taken years off horses’ lives. We have seen several horses left starving because so much has been ground off their teeth that they can’t chew!

We have also had reports of horses collapsing following sedation given by lay operators. Note that is illegal for anyone other than a registered Veterinary Surgeon to administer a sedative to your horse.

Who Should Do My Horses’ Teeth Checklist (with thanks to Dr Oliver Liyou of EVDS)

  • Good reputation and a long term commitment to the region.
  • Holistic approach to equine health problems that may be caused by teeth.
  • Keeps proper records and can issue a dental chart for each case.
  • Has a sound scientific background training- is technically and legally qualified.
  • Is good value for the service they provide and results achieved.
  • Can be held accountable for misconduct, and poorly executed procedures.
  • Contributes to society (hospitals, schools, roads etc) = issues tax invoices.
  • Examines the mouth by feeling AND looking, and shows you the problems.
  • Doesn’t risk the horse’s or owner’s safety at any time.
  • Is willing to refer complex cases if unable to handle them.
  • Is clean and considers biosecurity to reduce spread of disease between horses.
  • Is locally based or willing to return if revisits are needed.
  • Has insurance to cover themselves, you and the horse.
  • Can legally and safely sedate the horse if necessary.

For more information.