A Typical Dental Appointment
contributed by Katherine Cilinski, DVM
The exam begins with getting the horse's history, including feeding, riding discipline, and medical problems. The a physical exam is done, paying special attention to the head and face. Swollen and tender areas are noted and pointed out to the owner. The lips, gums, tongue and cheeks will be checked for sores and the motion of the jaw will be evaluated.
The horse is then sedated (see note below) enough to make him stand relaxed for the procedure. A speculum is used to open his mouth and his head will be supported by a stand or dental halter. Using a bright light, a dental probe and a mirror, the size, shape and position of the teeth will be evaluated. The owner will be able to see all of the teeth and abnormalities will be pointed out.
Motorized dental equipment will be used to "equilibrate" the teeth and address all of the irregularities. The motorized equipment helps to make the procedure quicker so the horse's mouth isn't open as long, and trauma to the teeth and gums (if any) is any. Water is used to keep the teeth and the instrument cool. A hand file is used at the end to ensure that all of the edges are smooth.
If any extractions are necessary, they are usually done toward the end of the dental procedure. Additional sedation and pain medication are given for the horse's comfort. Antibiotics are given when necessary.
When all procedures are complete, the owner will be shown the results and given a copy of the record with recommendations for the next appointment.
(Editorial NOTE: Sedation must, in most states, be administered by a veterinarian. If your dentist is not a veterinarian, you will need to coordinate a visit involving both professionals.)
*Dr. Katy Cilinski is a graduate of the VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. She is a member of the International Association of Equine Dentistry and the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
NOTE: Material presented by Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary on equineelders.org or in any other manner is for information purposes only. It is in no way intended to replace the services or advice of your veterinarian.