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Medical Index
First Posted Feb 20, 2009
Aug 3, 2010

Tips for Picking Your Equine Dentist

by James M. Casey, D.V.M., M.S.

The following information is reproduced on HorseHints with the permission of James M. Casey, D.V.M., M.S. My husband and I attended a Seminar on Feb. 8, 2009 where he was a featured speaker on Equine Dentistry and Dr. James Casey on Joint Problems. Thank you, Dr. Casey, for sharing your time and expertise with us.

"Veterinary Oath states 'The health of my patients, the best interest of owners, and the welfare of my fellow man, will be my primary considerations.' Here is the big dilemma; there are some very well educated, skilled veterinarians available to perform dentistry on your horse and a few non-veterinarians capable of doing basic care (floating teeth). then there are a number of poorly educated individuals doing you and your horse a disservice.

Some things you need to look for in a good equine veterinary dentist are:

1. Are They Looking at What They Are Doing?

They should be using portable surgical grade light (not a flash light), a padded stand, a full mouth speculum, and a veterinary assistant to steady the horse's head. All equine dental procedures are best performed when you can see what you are doing. This work does not need to be done blindly.

2. Clean and Sanitary

All dental instruments, the speculum (device that holds the horse's mouth open), buckets, etc. are all cleaned and washed with an antimicrobial disinfectant (I use Nolvasan Scrub and Solution) between each and every horse. No exceptions!

3. Equipped to Do the Job

They should be well equipped with good instrumentation, both motorized and non-motorized. I have over 100 different instruments that I use and probably could use more.

4. Examination Noting Pathology and Record Keeping

A complete examination with the use of surgical grade lighting, a dental mirror, and other appropriate instruments should be done. A record indicating all teeth in your horse's mouth, noting location and significance of all abnormalities, what work needs to be done, and time of follow up examinations should also be included.

5. Sedation and Anesthesia

This should be done when indicated and needed. An array of medications are available to assist us when we perform dentistry. These medications make your horse more comfortable. When the horse is sedated, it allows us to do a better job in a safer way.

6. Diagnostic Imaging

They should have access to diagnostic imaging equipment such as x-rays, preferably digital x-rays. This allows us to uncover and manage a host of equine dental abnormalities.

7. Sterile Techniques

When any invasive procedure such as wolf teeth extraction is performed, it should be done with sterile instruments under sterile techniques.

I urge horse owners and trainers to regard equine dentistry as a professional service and an important part of horses' health care. The service of a qualified Veterinarian also licensed to perform surgical procedures and to administer medication is invaluable.

Any group that would be interested in a presentation/talk (at no charge) on equine dentistry, please contact me.

James M. Casey, D.V.M., M.S.
Veterinary Practitioner and Professional Horsemen
Equine Sports Medicine, Surgery, and Dentistry
James M. Casey

Dr. Casey is a veterinarian based in Maryland, practicing in the Mid-Atlantic States and Florida.

Medical Index