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  How to Choose a Qualified Equine Dentist

- They should use a full mouth speculum (a device used to hold the mouth open using crescent-shaped bite plates for the incisors to rest on that ratchets). Thorough examination by sight and palpitation of the oral cavity. VS, a spool type speculum that is like a large fishhook with a handle on one side and a cylinder on the other side for the molars to sit on, will often fracture molars and does not allow a thorough exanimation of the mouth. This results in incomplete dental care along with more complicated problems.

- They should allow the client to feel the problems in the horse's mouth and the difference after the procedure is complete. This educates the horse owner or trainer and gives them more confidence that the practitioner is helping the horse and not creating new problems for the horse.

- They should give a brief explanation on the basic mechanics of how horses masticate their food when in proper balance.

- They should not pull out the tongue with force. This is due to the fact that the tongue is connected to a group of thin bones called hyoid apparatus, which are connected to the petrosal bones of the inner ear. I f the petrosal bones are damaged; it could result in balance problems, or tilting of the head. If the hyoid apparatus is damaged, the horse's tongue will usually hang out of its mouth.

- Your dentist should not be abusive to the horse. It is not their place to discipline your horse. It is your responsibility for your horse to have good manners before the practitioner works on it. The same applies to your farrier, vet, and chiropractor.

- They should not sedate without the owner's consent. It is in best interest of the non-veterinarian practitioner to have the owner provide the sedation, or have a licensed administrator available.

_ It should take approximately 45 to 60 minutes for the first visit, and 30 minutes for regular maintenance thereafter. The cost will vary from dentist to dentist, due to skill level and knowledge.

- They should fill out an evaluation chart that shows exactly what was found in the horse's mouth, and how it was taken care of.

- They should provide performance dentistry. This is when the first pre-molars are rounded to the gum line (commonly known as a bit seat). A bit seat prevents the cheeks and pouchy flesh on the lower bars from being forced into the boat-shaped points of the first pre-molars by the bit. This will eliminate vices such as head throwing, hollowing out, chomping, and/or grabbing of the bit.

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