Using an Equine Dental practitioner vs DVM

Why use an equine dentist like myself vs your veterinarian is something I
have been asked so many times by my clients over the years. Here is a
simple answer for all prospective clients as well as other veterinarians to
I am an equine dental specialist within this industry, and I have been in
practice for 15 years. California law requires all non DVM practitioners to
work “ under direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian”, which is what
this practice does for each and every dental appointment. I have a close
working relationship with a team of veterinarians here in California. This
team of veterinarians who work closely with me understand the need for
properly educated, skilled, experienced equine dental practitioners (non
DVM) like myself. The benefits to the consumer and the Veterinarian are
enormous. My education alone studying equine dentistry was 3 years, vet
school is 4 years and large animal dentistry to this date is still an
understated and minimized realm within equine healthcare. The average
vet student will get approximately 20 hours of hands on instruction. The
academic class instruction does not get into the pathologies nor the
developmental stages of the equine mouth. Your veterinarian is educated
and trained in so many other aspects of equine health care, however equine dentistry is not a part of the core curriculum.

Historically, the equine mouth and thorough comprehensive dental care
have not been highlighted as a speciality or given adequate teaching hours within vet schools as is
demonstrated by the overall lack of course work specifically in equine
dentistry. Even the RVT (Registered vet tech) programs throughout the
United States do not offer coursework on equines. The coursework focuses
on small animal dentistry. Dental health of our horses is extremely
important and can and does impact other health issues of the horse.

The benefits of having a certified equine dentist are the following: I bring
the dental expertise, knowledge and skill to each and every horse. I provide
the dental rebalancing procedures, recognize and identify the
malocclusions in the mouth, discuss with the client and with the attending
veterinarian how to address the problem. I possess the necessary
instrumentation to address all aspects of equine dentistry. I have 15 years
of experience of seeing very difficult cases and in making the necessary
corrections to improve the overall condition, comfort and health of the
mouth for the equine. The attending veterinarian will do a health assessment of your horse, check the heart rate, respirations, listen to gut sounds and take the temperature of each horse. Both the veterinarian and myself will ask questions pertaining to the overall health of your equine and past dental history. The veterinarian is responsible for sedating each equine and for monitoring the overall quality of sedation and for maintaining an appropriate and safe level of sedation for each case. I then focus on providing age appropriate dental care with the goal of each procedure to have a mouth that is put into proper occlusion and balance.

Each procedure is also done with the care and specificity to the age of the horse. Younger horses require different care from horses in their teens or the geriatric horse. I have all of the proper instrumentation to address all issues of the mouth and provide comprehensive dental equilibration of the mouth. With your veterinarian focusing only on the sedation and medicine side of each procedure I can then focus on doing the dental procedure, whether it be a straightforward rebalance of the mouth or more entailed dental procedures. We provide a collaborative approach to ensure that every dental case receives the best in overall dental care.I address occlusion and balance of the molars in relation to the incisors. Your vet does a “health float” where as I do a complete dental equilibration, rebalancing of the mouth. A “health float” only address taking off sharp points from the molars, that is it. I address the following: molar occlusion, molar malocclusion, identifying protuberant teeth, fractured teeth, loose teeth, gum disease, diagonal bites. Corrections and reduction of molars and the incisors are done to bring the entire mouth into full occlusion and balance.
Veterinarians do not address the incisors or do incisor bite alignments. There are very few veterinarians who have received extensive education and training specifically in equine dentistry. In cases requiring oral surgery, myself and the attending veterinarian will refer cases to an appropriate equine hospital for further assessment and treatment. Oral surgery should always be done within an equine hospital, i.e., University of California at Davis. There are veterinarians who do their own dentals, but keep in mind the level of work and expertise is different and my work always addresses the entire mouth. The molars and the incisors should be viewed as one functioning unit, they have to work together. I get so many cases where a veterinarian did improper, insufficient work and failed to address the incisors, thus creating a problem for the horse.

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