Equine Dentist
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 09:15 PM
Santo needed his teeth done. However, I really wanted to find a dentist specialist to do his teeth instead of my regular vet. I heard a lot about them and I read articles on the Internet written by dentist specialists. Unfortunately, there are not many in Alberta. I found only 2! One is in Calgary and another one is in Ponoka. I contacted the specialist from Ponoka. Her name is Margaret E Rougeau. She finished Equine Dentistry Academy in Idaho, US. And she has been practicing for 8 years. I was extremely lucky because she had a trip planned to Fort McMurray and my place is just a few km off her path to it. She agreed to stop on her way there and do Santo's teeth. She does a lot of traveling and comes with a special portable chute. Margaret insisted on taking time to make sure Santo is comfortable with her and the equipment. Santo was more curious than afraid, very typical of him :)
Margaret insisted on taking time to make sure Santo is comfortable with her and the equipment. Santo was more curious than afraid, very typical of him :) Margaret sedated him for the work. She used two different types of power tools and worked very efficiently and skillfully with them. What is so great about her work is she asks the owner to be right there, see everything, touch and evaluate the teeth before and after the procedure and ask questions. I have never seen equine dentistry in such detail as I was able to do with Margaret. All the sharp edges, points and bumps she thought needed to be removed I had a chance to see and touch. One of the procedures that I thought was very interesting is creating "bit seats". The front premolars on upper and lower jaws are filed to incline teeth backwards and produce very round edges. That creates more room for the bit and diminishes the chance of the pouchy cheek skin being pinched between the bit and sharp edge of the premolar teeth.
The equine dentist specialists talk about "three-point-balance". Here is the citation from Grant D. MacKinnon C.Eq.D.'s article: "Proper horse dentistry or “three-point-balance” not only removes the sharp points from all of the horse’s molars but insures the horse’s jaw, molars & incisors (front teeth) are in balance through a specific process of adjusting the chewing surfaces, removing irregularities and cutting the incisors down to meet in alignment with the molar table. This allows the three points of balance an opportunity to work comfortably together." Margaret filed Santo's incisors and the last check was moving his lower jaw and listen to the grinding sound. The sound should be smooth - something like grmm-grmm-grmm :) If the sound is bumpy or stuttering than the job is not complete and more filing is required.
Overall I was very pleased with Margaret's skills, enthusiasm and genuine desire to do the best job possible for my horse. However, because of lack of research done on horses teeth I am struggling to accept that much intervention without questioning it. I understand that horses who live with humans cannot choose their food or how to eat it. On top of this we very often put metal in their mouth. This makes care for teeth a necessity. But as with hoof trimming everybody have a different opinion and think he/she knows the truth. Here is an interesting website of one of Margaret's colleges Grant D. MacKinnon C.Eq.D. It contains articles and pictures about horses teeth and what he thinks needs to be done to them. When you read this site keep an open mind and do not simply take everything as a truth. However, I found the information very educational. Click on this sentence to go to his website.
The cost of equine dentist such as Margaret is not much higher than a regular vet. For a procedure that needs to be done once a year the difference is small. If you have a show horse that you work hard and want him/her to feel and perform the best skilled equine dentist is a very good investment. Santo was on vacation for 2 weeks right after his teeth were done. When he came back home I was very curious to see how he reacts to the bit. Before dentist's work I was starting to have some issues with him accepting the bit. I must tell I didn't see any dramatic changes. However, he worked well, there was no issues and Santo was more willing to round into frame than before.
I had an interesting observation. Santo's sound during chewing is very even grinding sound. The mare who came with him to be in training with me have bumpy and very uneven sound when she chews. I have to say she needs her teeth done...
Happy riding...
 
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