The goal of Valley Equine Dentistry is to give all of our patient’s comprehensive dental care. All dental procedures are performed by a veterinarian with advanced training in equine dentistry. Valley Equine Dentistry uses procedures and equipment that ensures your horse will receive the best dental care possible.
The routine dental exam and float should consist of three basic parts. These are a thorough history, a comprehensive float, and evaluation of the float.
A thorough history is essential to analyzing the needs of each individual horse. Each float begins with the veterinarian asking some basic questions about why they were called out to look at a patient. For example, is this a routine float or is this horse resisting the bit or having difficulty eating? For a routine float I would want to know when the horse was floated last, if a full mouth speculum was used, if motorized or hand floats was used etc. If there is a problem being addressed, I would need to know if the horse is not eating certain feeds, if the horse is balling up hay, or if there has there been a history of fever or nasal discharge, etc. The next step is to palpate the teeth. Palpation is used to assess the sharpness of the teeth, determine if the horse is showing signs of oral pain, and to evaluate the motion of the jaw. The last step of the exam is a visual exam of the mouth to assess sharp points, overgrowths and ulcerations of oral tissues.
The goal of the float is to identify and correct any abnormalities in the mouth in a safe and effective manner, while causing minimal stress to the patient. I routinely sedate horses for all procedures to ensure safety, minimize resistance, and allow the veterinarian to do a thorough and adequate float. Once the horse is sufficiently sedated, the mouth is rinsed and a full mouth speculum is put in place. A full mouth speculum is an apparatus which holds the mouth open and allows a clear view of the mouth. This type of speculum is the safest to use because it dissipates the forces of holding the mouth open over many teeth. Next the horse’s head is placed on a padded head stand. I feel a head stand is best because it eliminates the need for the owner to hold the head up, which can be very strenuous and dangerous. The head stand also allows the horse to hold their head in a comfortable position. The horse is not restrained by the stand and can back up away from it at any time throughout the procedure.
Once the horse is sufficiently sedated with the speculum in place and their head on the head stand, the exam begins. Sharp points, over growths, and imbalances, etc. are easily identified with the help of a very bright head light. Once the evaluation is complete the float begins. I use motorized equipment for all my floats. The motorized float allows me to do all procedures in a precise and effective manner, while minimizing trauma to the mouth. I use the Flexi-Float dental system for all of my floats. This system’s features are illustrated below.
- Fiber Optic Lights - allows superior visualization of all areas of the mouth.
- Irrigation - cools teath during float to avoid thermal damage.
- Vacuum - clears dust generated during float.
- Flexible head - allows greater access to back of mouth.
After the Float
It is important to asses the function of the horses mouth following a float. Manipulating the jaw tells me if the teeth are grinding effectively with no resistance. Visually you can tell if the teeth are in balance and if reductions were sufficient. I consider pain or difficulty eating after the routine float to be abnormal. The vast majority of my patients will go back to eating as soon as they wake up from sedation.