If your horse has never had complete dental care, you can look forward to several benefits. Complete dental care can increase the efficiency with which your horse eats, decreasing the amount of feed lost or digested incompletely.
Correct dental care can make your horse happier by decreasing the constant pain inflicted by sharp enamel points. This can make your horse more responsive to your commands because of decreased pain.
All horses can benefit from dental care. Just because your horse is in good shape or only 2 years old, don’t think dental care is unnecessary. Dental care is definitely not just for old or thin horses.
Dr. Huenefeld uses the POWERFLOAT to do a complete dental. These floats allow him to easily take care of many problems that are almost impossible to correct with hand floats and are less stressful to the patient. A full mouth speculum is always used. Most horses are treated in stocks – in clinic and on farm – for ease and safety.
Many veterinarians now use the POWERFLOAT, but many don’t understand the difference between the act of simply “floating” the sharp points off of teeth and performing a complete dental. A complete dental includes the following steps.
• General evaluation — body condition, problems, external exam of the head, basic external oral exam
• Sedation — 99% of the horses we treat are placed in stocks. Sedation is required for complete examination and treatment.
• Full mouth speculum — this devise holds the mouth open so complete examination and treatment is possible.
• Clean the mouth and visual exam — after the mouth is cleaned, the teeth, gums, cheek and tongue are examined.
• Palpation of teeth — each tooth is then examined by feel, each surface is felt for abnormalities and the tooth is checked to be sure it is not loose.
• Treatment of teeth — We use the POWERFLOAT to perform our corrective procedures. We use these floats to remove sharp enamel points from the outer and inner edges of each cheek tooth, and to smooth the sides of each tooth to the gum line to keep sharp points from reforming quickly. The first cheek teeth is gently rounded to form a rounded edge known as a ‘bit seat” and the back side of the last cheek teeth are rounded to prevent the pinching of soft tissue. Overgrown teeth are reduced – these include hooks and ramps that may have formed. The incisors and canines are treated if needed.
• Extraction of diseased teeth, wolf teeth and/or removal of premolar caps.
• Examination of entire mouth for sharp edges following floating.
These basic steps are performed with all floating procedures. Some abnormalities we find may require extra treatment (example – flushing and antibiotic gel in periodontal pockets). Uncomplicated extractions can be performed with basic sedation and nerve blocks. Surgical extractions are referred.
Following the dental procedure, Dr. Huenefeld usually evaluates the TMJ (the joint where the jaw meets the skull) and makes chiropractic adjustments to this joint as needed. An injection of Banamine may be given IV to prevent or decrease any inflammation associated with the procedure.
Dr. Huenefeld has received postgraduate training in equine dentistry from Colorado State, the American Association of Equine Practitioners in Lexington, KY and from courses attended in Las Vegas and Orlando.