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Equine Dentistry

At Twin Pines Equine, we offer routine and advanced dentistry for horses, ponies, minis, donkeys and mules. We primarily use motorized tools as that is what we are most comfortable with. Additionally, we are able to perform standing extractions.

Our routine exam includes:

  • Sedation tailored to each horse’s needs.
  • A complete oral exam using an oral speculum, bright light, mirror and picks.
  • Reduction of enamel points, steps, hooks, ramps, waves, etc.
  • A dose of intravenous pain medication (Equioxx) is administered after every dental.

We also offer more advanced techniques such as:

  • Diastema widening (burring)
  • Cheek tooth extraction
  • Sinus flushing

To schedule an appointment, or if you have any questions regarding these services, please call our office at (860) 376-4373.

Frequently asked questions regarding equine dentistry:

How often should my horse have a dentistry?

We recommend the every horse have an oral exam performed at least a once yearly to check for abnormalities. Most horses will benefit from a yearly intervention, however it may not be necessary in all cases. Some horses with good, level cheek teeth and a normal wear pattern can go for two years between dentals. On the other hand, older horses or those with significant abnormalities may need to be done twice yearly, or even more frequently.

Does my horse have to be sedated?

Most horses do. A complete oral examination can only be performed by inserting a full mouth speculum, which holds the teeth apart and allows us to safely insert our hands and mirrors. Most horses will not tolerate this examination without some sedation. Since we use motorized equipment, there is some noise associated. Due to this many horses do better with at least a light amount of sedation. We always perform a brief physical examination before we use any sedative, and we tailor the drug and amount to each individual horse. The sedatives we use are quite safe, resulting in a calm, quiet horse who remains standing throughout the procedure and wakes up fully in a few hours at most.

Is motorized dentistry equipment safe?

In the hands of an experienced person, yes – motorized dental equipment is very safe. The equipment we use is very efficient at removing excessive tooth without damaging the soft tissue structures in the mouth, such as the gums and cheeks. We take frequent breaks to rinse and cool the equipment to avoid overheating. We are also very careful not to remove too much tooth If we cannot safely reduce the tooth to a “normal” level, we will stop, and recommend another visit in about 3 months. This gives the pulp horns a chance to regress. Failure to stop at this point can result in exposure of the pulp cavity (sensitive root) and potential damage to the tooth. We have extensive experience with this dentistry method, and are very comfortable with its use.

That being said, if used by an inexperienced person, motorized dentistry equipment has the potential to be unsafe. In the wrong hands, too much tooth can be removed, or the teeth may be heated to the point of being damaged. Always make sure the person performing ANY procedure on your horse has sufficient experience.

Keep in mind it’s the user, not the tool. It is equally possible to do damage to a tooth or soft tissues with a hand float as it is with motorized equipment.

Why should a veterinarian float my horse's teeth?

This is a great and sometimes controversial question. There are lots of people out there calling themselves “equine dentists”, with varying amounts of training, and many people are confused by this term. This term generally refers to someone who floats teeth but is not a veterinarian. They may go by the title “Certified Equine Dental Technician” or something similar, since they are not legally allowed to refer to themselves as a “dentist”. (As a side note, veterinarians aren’t allowed to use that term either – we may have a “focus in dentistry” or “specialization in dentistry”, but the word “dentist” is reserved for human dentists.) Unlike veterinarians, “Equine Dental Technicians” are generally not regulated by the government or any national board, and they are not a “licensed” profession in either Connecticut or Rhode Island. Many do not use an oral speculum, so they are unable to visualize or feel the back of the mouth Without a speculum, they can reduce enamel points, but they are not usually able to address hooks or waves especially further back. Additionally, they are not trained to look for pathology the way a veterinarian is. Legally, they cannot sedate, diagnose, perform extractions, or prescribe medications.

Only a veterinarian has the appropriate training to identify and treat all of the various dental abnormalities that can affect a horse’s mouth. We have the ability to safely sedate the horse to allow for a full and complete examination. We have the added benefit of being able to pursue further diagnostics such as radiographs. We are able to perform extractions if necessary, and prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs as well.

For more information on Equine Dentistry, please see our blog entry on the subject.