Dentistry for Horses and Your Veterinarian

April 26, 2010 (published)

Finding the right person to perform dental care for your horse can be confusing for some owners. However, Dr. Jack Easley wants to remind everyone that your equine veterinarian has had 4 years of training; in the first year alone that training includes normal muscle, nerve, and bone formation of the mouth, dental structure and function, and the effect of the teeth and oral cavity function on digestion and absorption of nutrients. The second year includes disease processes that involve all body systems including the mouth and teeth.

Also, a full year is spent on physiology and pharmacology of drugs, and this is really important since drugs are mandatory to perform complete equine dentistry. Performing these procedures on a horse without drugs is painful for the horse and dangerous for the horse and people performing the procedures. Would you allow your human dentist to inject drugs in your mouth or give you a sedative if you knew they had no formal training in the use and potential side effects of these medications? Well, that is what non veterinary dentists are doing at this time. The third year of vet school gives students hands on exposure to medical and surgical techniques that also includes procedures on the oral cavity. The fourth year of school is clinical training and allows students to observe and actually perform the procedures including dental procedures on horses. For example, Dr. Cleet Griffin teaches a thorough equine dentistry course to all fourth year students at Texas A&M. Equine dentistry is his major focus to make sure students are well trained and are competent to perform complete equine dentistry when they graduate.

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