Some more useful information for you all

VictoriaHammondEDT

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Oct 3, 2009
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This is an article I wrote with Equine Canine and Countrylife Magazine: Enjoy!:)

When you call your Equine Dental Technician or vet out for a routine visit, are you ever left wondering “why exactly does my horse need to see the dentist?”

Dentistry is as much of an essential part of a horse routine as farriery and inoculations. The main reason for the need to have routine dental treatment is that the horse has been removed from his natural environment and domesticated.

Horses are grazing animals and in their natural environment they roam their territory and feed on abrasive grasses such as cordgrass, supplemented by thorny stems, twigs, rose hips and seaweeds, and this is what the horses dental anatomy is designed to chew on and thus wear the teeth down sufficiently. However, we as the horse owner turn our horses out in lush soft pasture and feed them on soft meadow hay, which is not coarse enough.

Horses are known as having hypsodont teeth, which basically means that they are long crowned (approx 4-5” as a youngster) with limited growth but wear continually throughout the horses life at a rate of 3-5mm per year. This gives each tooth an approximate lifespan of 25-30 years depending on diet and whether the horse has had regular dentistry. Many people think that horses are like rabbits and rats and that they have an unlimited tooth growth but this is not the case.

Equine teeth are made of three different densities of material; enamel, dentin and pulp. Pulp is not exposed at the tooth surface but is protected by dentin. Enamel is the hardest of these materials and each tooth comprises of enamel folds giving a durable grinding surface and the outside surface of the tooth is covered with a semi durable material called cementum.

In the domesticated horse, enamel does not wear away as it should and produces very sharp enamel points that ulcerate the cheeks and tongue causing extreme pain and discomfort to the horse. Due to the upper set of cheek teeth being 30% wider than the lower set of teeth and the way the narrower lower jaw sits anatomically; you get an overhang of tooth on the cheek sides of the uppers and tongue sides of the lowers and it is these areas that get sharp and cause the ulceration. To give you an idea as to how sharp these points get, Victoria will tell you that she has cut her fingers on them on many occasions, so imagine what the horse feels! Victoria Hammonds job as an Equine Dental Technician is to routinely (every 6-12 months) rasp the teeth either by hand or with modern equine dental power instrumentation, thus removing the sharp points. Deciding as to whether a horse needs this routine dentistry every 6 or 12 months depends entirely on the individual animal and its diet and routine. Generally younger horses up to the age of 8 and over the age of 20 need to be seen every 6 months as a rule of thumb as this is when the most changes occur in the horses mouth.

Victoria spends about 75% of her time performing these routine procedures and the remainder of which is spent performing advanced dentistry on corrective procedures using equine specific diamond coated power instrumentation and balancing the horses’ mouth to increase well being and performance in its chosen discipline.

Kitty Boggis is a professional advanced event rider based in Lower Stanton St Quinton in Wiltshire and she understands how important it is for a horse to have routine dentistry. Victoria is Dental Technician to all of Kittys horses and she visits her yard throughout the year to ensure each horse is treated twice a year. At Kittys yard, Victoria performs tasks from retained baby tooth extraction with the vet present to advanced dental malocclusion corrections on her new arrivals to routine removal of sharp points on the horses she has had at her yard for many years.

Kitty says “when riding a competition event horse to advanced level, it is so important that they have their mind on the job, as a horse who has dental pain and is not concentrating can mean that our success is limited. I can tell when a horse is not quite right in the mouth as I do not have their full attention and they either headshake, tilt their heads to one side to alleviate pain, grind their teeth or lean on one side and drop the other rein; this can result in compensatory disorders affecting the horses neck/back and even their limbs. I also find that a lot of my young stock have more advanced dental issues and Victoria says that this is due to the high number of changes going on in the their mouth up until 5-6 years of age so I think it is even more important that these horses are seen at least twice a year, sometimes more. Victoria does a fabulous job at treating all of my horses as individuals and in a very clam and relaxed way and they always feel better to ride the next day”.

As a horse owner, the symptoms you should look out for when you horse requires dentistry would be tiliting/shaking of the head when eating or being ridden, dropping feed, bad breath, nasal discharge, long fibres of hay in faeces, choking and teeth grinding. However, Victoria believes that no horse should be left to get to the point where any of the above symptoms are displayed and this emphasises the importance of routine treatment. Victoria loves her job and although it is known for being notoriously dangerous, the reward of relieving horses from pain and enhancing their performance, treating them with the respect that they deserve far outweighs the risks involved.
 

melmo1313

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Sep 5, 2009
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Preston
I found this really interesting as on my recent trip away I was assistant to a qualified American EDT (just trying to hold the more agitated horses still lol). It was really intriguing to see how the 20 or so horses we worked on all had different reactions to the 'spec' and the rasps and whether they had been worked on before or not. Actually being able to feel inside the horse's mouth and feel the points and the uneven wearing was amazing. The place I was at uses hackamores and feeds very little hard feed so it would be interesting to see what other horses look/feel like. I know my old share horse probably needed his teeth doing. She had one she couldn't work on as he had a bad molar that needed to be removed under sedation (which she is not qualified to do). It is amazing just how labour-intenstive the whole process is and she normally doesn't have anyone else around to help so it must be sooo tiring! I have a picture somewhere around of us working on one of the horses. Some horses were very nervous and it tended to be those horses which were head shy anyway or very nervous that did NOT like being done. We had a little 11hh POA that was a snot .. but then I know he definitely has a stubborn streak lol.
 
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