During the actual dental procedure, the horse is given a small dose of a mild IV (or oral in certain cases) sedative. This ensures that he stands still, that the muscles of his jaw and mouth are relaxed, and that his tongue is still. Typically the medicine wears off in 15-30 minutes and some horses require additional doses. Occasionally horses may tolerate a minor procedure without sedation.
The horse is positioned in the padded stall of the mobile dental trailer, (outside the trailer if it cannot be loaded) , in the doorway of a barn stall, or in stocks to ensure the safety of the horse, the doctor and the handlers.
A sedated horse’s head is relatively heavy, so several different techniques may be utilized to support the head during a dental procedure:
- Using soft chin rest and hands-free head suspension system in equine dental trailer.
- Use of a padded head stand to support the horse’s head.
- Handler holding horse’s head on his shoulder.
- Suspending the horse’s head from a rope connected to the noseband and secured over a beam.
The actual dental procedure obviously varies from horse to horse. A combination of dental forceps, mirrors, picks, hand floats and power instruments are used to remove deciduous teeth and wolf teeth, file down sharp edges, perform extractions, reduce large teeth and correct malocclusions.
Once the dental procedure is complete, the horse is allowed to rest in a quiet stall. All feed and hay is taken away for about an hour to prevent accidental choking. If necessary, a sedative reversal agent may be administered.
If routine floating is performed, your horse can generally be ridden the next day.
If wolf tooth extractions are performed, we generally recommend giving your horse a few days off from training.
For other more invasive procedures, such as molar extractions, your horse may require a longer period of rest before training is resumed. Additionally, it may receive anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), antibiotics, or special mouth rinses.
A copy of the complete dental record and chart of your horse’s mouth will be provided. It shows diagrams of the teeth and a description of all work performed.
Recheck appointments are made on a case-by-case basis. Most horses under 5 years of age are seen every 6 months in order to monitor the shedding of baby teeth, while adults are seen every 9-12 months. Performance horses are often checked every 6 months. Those with specific dental issues may be scheduled more frequently.