Dentistry: Onsite & mobile

The primary aim of equine dentistry is to maintain good oral health and maximise the comfort and function of the horse while eating and when bitted.

Advances in the understanding of oral pathology and function, drug modalities, technology, skills and skill learning opportunities have allowed this area of veterinary science to leap forward to a position where only qualified and skilled veterinarians can practice it.

Unless these issues are fully understood, the practice of equine dentistry becomes unreasonable for animal welfare and consumer protection aside from horse health and legislative grounds.

Incorrect dental procedures can result in any or all of the following: smooth dental tables, exposed pulps, inappropriate orthodontic movement, and loss of teeth, bone fractures, osteomyelitis and abscess, death from complication or for humane reasons.

Horse owners are entitled to expect that the persons practising dentistry are properly trained, accredited and regulated.

Routine dentistry in the horse is not just about the rasping the teeth – in fact that part is the straightforward part. The examination of the mouth is by far the most important feature of equine dentistry, just as it is in human dentistry. Equine dental vets are trained to not only look at the whole of horse’s mouth but also the horse as a whole; remember that the mouth is just the beginning of the horse’s digestive tract. Appropriate knowledge of dental anatomy and disorders allows early diagnosis of problems and subsequent treatment to be performed before a serious problem develops. Under the Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966), a “diagnosis” can ONLY be reached by a qualified veterinary surgeon.

As the examination of the mouth is the most important part of dentistry, the more detailed it can be, the better. For the most thorough examination to be performed this should involve sedation in all but the best-behaved horses. Horses suffering from oral pain or those who have an existing dental problem should be sedated for both a complete examination and subsequent treatment. For painful procedures such as wolf tooth removal or removal of food between cheek teeth, your equine vet will be able to provide pain relief and local anaesthetic to make the procedure as pain-free as possible.

Other ancillary aids such as radiography may be required to reach a diagnosis which can only be performed by veterinary surgeons. Only veterinary surgeons can administer treatments such as antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and dispense oral sedatives.

Valley Equine Veterinary Centre offers the full range of equine dental services from routine preventative maintenance to advanced surgical procedures. Our experienced equine dentist can perform procedures onsite at our clinic or alternatively we can come to your property and utilise our mobile crush to attend to your horse’s dental needs.

At the time of your on farm appointment, we need you or someone who is able to handle your horse on your behalf, to be present throughout the appointment.

We need a safe, clear, level place to park our vehicle and trailer/ crush. If you have shade for us in the summer or shelter for us in the winter, those are always greatly appreciated.

We also ask that you remove any loose horses from the area/paddock that we will be working in, to ensure everyone’s safety.

You will be asked to lead your horse towards the crush then stand and wait while we check their vital signs, estimate their weight and get their medical history from you.

While they are standing calmly, the sedation will be administered and allowed to take effect. While the horse is still relatively alert, you will be asked to walk them into the crush.

Once inside, the front and rear doors of the crush will be closed behind and in front of the horse and a metal gag halter put on. This keeps the horse’s mouth open during the exam without causing them any discomfort.

A routine dental exam takes around 45 minutes from start to finish but could be longer or shorter depending on what needs to be done.

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