Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tartar Build-up on Your Horse's Teeth.

In this article, veterinarian Dr. Mary Delorney DVM says, "Your veterinarian can show you how to remove any tartar between visits". Tartar on a horse's teeth is not a serious matter but will seal off the gums from oxygen and may eventually cause rot. And I think this comment shows that, with a little advice from your vet or your favorite equine dental technician, you need not go to any great expense to remove the tartar from you horses teeth; in the rare event that it has any.

Wow, here is an excellent veterinarian equine dental site I just ran across, that says, "This website was created for the horse owner who wants to learn". That's encouraging.

Well this should assuage a few fears about tartar on equine teeth.

Tartar build-up is not associated with poor care but rather specific internal organ complications of the kidney and liver. Old age can bring on these problems as well.

There has been some documentation in non-equine, small animal and human dentistry, that toxins released from infected gum tissue, do have a systemic affect on the heart and other organs, through bacterial release from infected gums and decaying teeth. These "bacterial showers" may initiate such conditions as endocarditis, kidney problems, etc. These conditions would follow sizable periods of significant infection and be accompanied by noticeable decay, foul smelling breath, and fever. This type of decay is very noticeable and treatable well before it reaches a dangerous stage.

I'm looking forward to getting back to this as soon as possible with a little more information on the misconceptions that exist regarding tartar on the horses teeth - such as tartar build-up leading to any kind of nerve damage in the gumline. I will then just add that information to this post, and then add the word "updated" to the title. So I will see you then.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Full Mouth Evaluation Without A Speculum Is Not Possible.

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In equine dentistry one must be able to access and inspect the inside of the horse's mouth both visibly and palpably in order to fully examine it. By palpably I mean that it must be felt or touched(palpated) with the hand. The majority of issues inside a horse's mouth simply can't be identified by sight, and the ones that are able to be seen, still cannot be properly evaluated until having felt them. A loose tooth is the obvious example of an issue that can't be detected just by looking at it.

Here's a 39 second video of a woman putting a speculum on a horse.

So a full-mouth speculum is used to hold the horse's mouth open in order to be able to insert a hand, as well as a good bit of the forearm, inside the horse's mouth to feel around.

When a speculum is put on the average horse, he will typically show a small degree of anxiety for a moment or two and then gradually accept it. Very few horses will not accept a speculum, and those who don't, will then need to be sedated before having their mouth inspected.
















It's very quick and easy to put a speculum on a horse. You then rinse the mouth out and palpate(feel) throughout the entire mouth for anything which may be abnormal. Very quick and easy, and essential. The only other thing than a speculum necessary for the proper inspection of a horses mouth is a person properly trained in equine dental science who is willing to do a thorough and careful job.

The speculum is an indispensable part of the formula in adequately checking any horse who is showing signs of being compromised by a problem inside his mouth. I'll give you an illustration of how badly things can go wrong when proper inspection standards are not followed and a speculum is not used.

A farrier customer of mine has a 27 year old horse who had just lately been eating less and less of it's usual daily rations. The equine practitioner there giving a mid-winter Coggins test was asked to check the horse's mouth for any potential problems. The vet checked the horses mouth, without the use of a speculum, and subsequently gave the horse a clean bill of health. And in particular, that the horse had no loose teeth.

On my next farrier visit there they asked me to check the horse's teeth. They told me the horse was doing poorly and they were not convinced that there was not a problem inside the mouth. I checked and found a lose, sideways tooth, that not only couldn't bear weight without considerable pain, being in a sideways and impossible weight-bearing position, but had long been rubbing, blistering and callousing the cheek next to it as well. Not only could the horse not chew on that side of its mouth but it had a much larger problem. A horse cannot chew efficiently on only one side of its mouth. Right, a horse does indeed chew on only one side of its mouth at a time, but its method of processing the food that enters it's mouth requires chewing ultimately on both sides of its mouth. Since food inevitably migrates it's way to the bad side of the mouth, the horse is faced with the painful need of having to do something with that food, or swallowing it whole, and the painful predicament leaves the horse to slowly lose interest in eating much at all.

The horse and the owner are now left in a disastrous condition, horse having been diagnosed as having no problem in the mouth and now left to continue to deteriorate-the result of having been attended to by someone who is not an honest dental practitioner-when a problem this common should have easily been remedied, by after properly inspecting the horses mouth in the first place, merely lifting the offending tooth out of the horses mouth, allowing it to eat freely again, and live.
















Instead of coming back the next day and pulling it out myself, since I didn't have my molar pullers with me, I suggested that the equine vet would appreciate knowing what had been missed, rather than hearing about it at some later date, and be allowed to come back and correct it.

The equine practioner came back in a week and pulled out not one but two loose teeth.

The lesson to be learned here is that the horse's mouth can have any number of serious issues needing attention which will be left undiagnosed and untreated without the use of a speculum; not to mention without the necessary integrity of the attending practitioner. The illustration above helps us understand why this is important information to have. Also why second opinions can be vey useful.

The full mouth inspection of a horse without the use of a speculum cannot be done. A very valuable point to bear in mind come dental evaluation time.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mouth Evaluation? Never Let Anyone Grab Your Horse's Tongue.

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This picture taken from the front of the horse's mouth shows the two small bones in the upper throat to which the muscles and ligaments of the tongue are attached. Being as small as they are, and not intended for any pulling, it's very easy to sprain or tear these attachments. Therefore, under no circumstances should you let anyone hold onto your horse's tongue while pretending to inspect it's mouth. The horse will pull back, and the handler will hold on, and the horse will needlessly then wind up with a sore or injured tongue. Besides, one can't even begin to do a meaningful inspection of a horses mouth that way.

Most importantly, it doesn't work for the horse. A horse has to grind, into very small particles, nearly a bale of hay per day; and can't do that very well with a sprained or sore tongue.

Apart from the reality that you can't even adequately inspect a horse's mouth using the method of holding onto the tongue, there is one much better reason not to. And that is - there is a better way.

Hook your closed fist onto the lower bar of the open mouth and you have both the mouth held wide open for inspection and the horse restrained at the same time. Simply put; you can view the horse's mouth better, controlling it at the same time, without risking injury to the tongue or even getting the horse excited.

Stand facing the horse and insert your closed fist, right or left hand, depending on which side you want to inspect, into the bar area of the horse's mouth, and hook your fist onto the lower bar. Now you've got the horse restrained with your fist firmly and harmlessly hooked over it's lower jaw, and horse's mouth propped open by your fist at the same time. The horse may react and some at first, but if you relax the horse usually will also. During an unsedated animal's dental evaluation, you generally are best to follow the horse around while it tries to get comfortable and cope with your hand in it's mouth, because it's quite impossible to ask it to stand still. So if the horse insists upon squirming around, you simply follow it around, relaxed, and get your inspection done, with someone else loosely at the other end of an attached lead rope.

Now you simply push the tongue out of the way with your flashlight and insert your other hand inside to feel all around the front of the mouth and back to the central regions of the cheek teeth. This way you can thoroughly check the front half of the horse's mouth. If you want to get brave you can pivot your forearm upsidedown and quickly scoot your hand all the way back to the last cheek tooth to check for a hook.

You can't thoroughly check a horse's mouth without using a speculum. That's a bridle-like piece of equipment that holds the horse's mouth open so that you can safely get your hand all the way to the back of the mouth for a full evaluation. One cannot completely inspect the mouth, getting back to some of the most troublesome spots, without the use of a full mouth speculum. Don't let someone claim to have adequately inspected your horses mouth if they do otherwise.

And make sure anyone you take advice from can show you where they got their training by leading you, on-line, to a reputable school they've attended. That's a very reliable test. There are many unsatisfactory farrier schools out there who will also give their students a brief introduction into horse dentistry and leave them quite convinced that they have adequate knowledge and are then even artificially certified in many instances. Those types of equine dental technicians can leave people with the false sense of having their horse properly serviced. But it's not hard to see them a mile away.

I'm not recommending anyone try the above method of inspecting their horses mouth but simply explaining what it should look like when someone who knows what they are doing shows up.

I'm also not discouraging anyone from trying this if they are willing to feel their way along carefully and be ready to learn as they go. Preparing you for some of the pitfalls and surprises you'll encounter would take more time than we have right now. While I'm sure I can't claim this to be an original method of my own, I did think of and develope this method on my own, so with a little ingenuity, I'm sure most people can get it figured out themselves and even improve upon it. This is a very useful method if one wants to safely check a horse for wolf teeth, front hooks, cheek blistering, foxtails, sharp outer edges(cusps) on upper and lower cheeck teeth, inspect tongue injury from bitting, and, among plenty of other things...aging a horse, which is a valuable science in itself that I'm looking forward to posting on when I get a chance.

Knowing how to check your horses mouth, age a horse, even take care of it's feet in a pinch, is an important part of horsemanship and horse ownership.

I'm happy to help you with any questions.

Good luck and take care of those mouths.

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Any questions? Just click on the "comments" below.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Horse Dentistry: Athens Veterinary Clinic.

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Athens Veterinary Clinic is one of the places I feel real good about mentioning to horse owners in need of sound equine dental service. They just do a real good job at everything equine and are a luxury to have in the area. The bad news is that they need a full days work to justify coming from Athens to the Rhinelander area or beyond. The good news, apart from them indeed being willing to come up here, is that it is just under an hour and a half from Rhinelander and a very good option for someone able to trailer their horse. And the incentive is that you get sound and thorough equine treatment.

So give them a call and get on their list. And spread the word around a little as well.

Athens Veterinary Clinc, 715-257-7003

Another good destination for horse dentistry would be Dr. Bob Nagel, Wittenberg WI, 715-253-2668.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Well...Here's an Odd But Long Overdue Developement.

The veterinarian community, years ago, had made it illegal for anyone to practice horse dentistry without being under the supervision of a licensed vet. They categorized floating teeth as being surgery and had lobbied and succeeded in outlawing the practice of it being done by anyone but themselves. I continue to grow as a Christian. Simply the product of paying closer attention and giving greater respect to God's Word, as it's been revealed to us in the bible. Thankfully, I have finally given in to what I believe, and subsequently, will no longer be performing horse dentistry illegally outside of the supervision of a vet. But I don't think it is illegal to perform horse dentistry as a favor to a friend or aquaintance, outside of a professional capacity, at no cost to the horse owner. So until I find out differently, my mode of operations from this point forward will be different in the following way. I'll be asking that whoever would like the usual equine dentistry done on their animal by me to either bring their horse to a prearranged small animal clinic, where the service will be performed in the parking lot, with a vet nearby in a supervisory capacity, or if that is not possible, then I will gladly come to your place and do it for no charge, as time permits. I will make every effort to find the time. Considering it is very rare to find a equine veterinarian who is both adequately trained as well as trustworthy, with regards to equine dentistry, indeed, not possible in this area, I will gladly continue to take care of these horses as my schedule permits, doing so for no charge, and no donation, simply to get it done, and done within the law. Getting it done , even at no charge at all, is easier for me to do than to watch it be done poorly or not at all. It's an important service in the horse industry that the veterinary schools don't adequately prepare their equine veterinarian students for, or adequately teach it's importance to. Therefore, with only rare exceptions, you have equine vets largely without the knowledge, ability, or the desire, to see that quality equine mouth care gets provided. That's why I went into horse dentistry, and that's why it's not a big deal to continue to see that it gets done in the fashion I've just described. There will just be a lot less of it getting done by me because doing most things in my spare time interferes with my piano playing, which I can do all day long for free also. I can explain this a lot more in depth in some future article. I simply wanted to warn all concerned about the change in my procedure regarding my equine dentistry service.

This will not substantially effect my current dentistry clients.

Feel free to pop any questions or comments to me by clicking on the comments link below.

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