Friday, April 3, 2009

The Dentist Cometh

Finally, our equine dentist was able to make it out for a full day. Bless his heart, I love this guy. He is so down to earth, takes his time and explains and shows me everything that is going on in each horse's mouth.

Equine dental is something I am still learning the finer points of-no pun intended. The old days of having someone manually file the sharp edges off your horse's teeth seems way too basic and outdated. But this guy does not condescend nor even suggest that a basic float does not have it's merits. He also believes that how often a horse needs his teeth floated depends on the horse. Annual is good for most. Depending on the horse and it's living and eating situation, he even says most horses can go a couple of years between floats. Wow-how is that for common sense?

He got quite a variety in the line-up we had ready for him. From the 4y/o gelding, I am ready to start to an 18y/o mare, that Megan is going to use as a practice horse. He worked on 7 head for us this time. I made another list of "to-do" horses for when he comes back in May and another list for this fall.
So what did he find?
Well, everything has some sharp points, some had wavy mouth, some had ramps and some had hooks. There were a few that had late growing wolf teeth he removed and the 4y/o had a partial cap that he popped off.
From the picture above, starting from the left;
Boon(black mare)-the 6y/o we bought last fall. She was a severe teeth grinder when we got her. The dentist said that the grinding itself does not necessarily cause dental problems, but it sure doesn't hurt to keep an eye on it. The mare has slowly gotten over the grinding issue and seldom does it anymore. That speaks volumes of her mental state from the time we got her til now. It took 6 months for mom to be able to integrate her into a herd situation. She had no herd social skills whatsoever, nor any concept of how to travel in open spaces. Her mouth wasn't in terrible shape-a few sharp edges and a bit of wave. And a wolf tooth. She is completely fixed up now. I'm going to start saddling her and doing some groundwork, but probably won't start riding her (she is broke) until I get a chiropractor to work her over. I know she is locked in one hip for sure and I think she is out in the poll too, as well as a couple places in her neck.

Turk(paint gelding)-He had some wave, some ramps and 4 very definite hooks. He is now fixed up and his front teeth were ground down a tad to get his grinding motion fixed. Him, I will start riding to see if this helped his lope-off issues. It's possible he will need another chiropractic adjustment as well, but at least I am comfortable riding him to try to start working on balance and cadence issues.

Bunny(bay mare hiding behind Turk)-She had some serious waves and ramps and two prominent hooks in the front. When I let her in the barn, the dentist had to look her all over. It's easy to chuckle over the width and breadth of this mare-she is massive. In shape, she weighted up at 1350lbs. Add a couple hundred extra pounds to that, on a horse that is only 14.3H and you have a halter horse lovers wet dream. She is on a diet and I am very serious about getting her in shape this year. In spite of her thick build, she is tremendously athletic-she can slide to a stop and spin like a top...and then she is out of breath-LOL.

Sissy(paint mare)-Is going to be Megan's practice horse this year. She is a pony looking little thing, but looks and moves beautifully in an English saddle. Never would have thought that in a million years. The dentist had to take a second look at her when I told him she was 18y/o. She looks more like an 8y/o. Megan is pretty specific about which horses she likes and wants to work with. However, if she is going to get serious about her English and learning to jump this year, she is going to have to have more than one or two horses to practice on. I figure if she has 4 or 5 that need pole and cavaletti work, she will get the practice she needs without overworking any one this is where having a "herd" is a definite advantage-LOL. She had sharp edges and some hooks. Her fronts were ground down a tad to get her grinding action correct. The dentist was also amazed that she had such perfectly straight teeth for a girl her age. And big teeth. He commented several times on the size of her teeth. Poor little pony.;)

Not pictured were;
Sandy-The big bay gelding I am going to start exhibitioning in barrels this year. The dentist loved him. He had the start of some wave going on and some sharp edges, but overall was in pretty decent shape.

Nod-One of mom's broodmares(too be). Some real sharp edges and prominent ramps. She took 3 doses of relax-meds. You could say this mare is a little tightly wound-sheez. I am inclined to breed this mare this year. I told mom all a person would ever need is one or two foals out of this mare and they would be mounted for years.

and finally,
VooDoo-I was joking with the dentist and told him VooDoo was his payment for services rendered...he said keep him in the stall, he would be right back with his pickup and trailer. Whoops! Doo got a 1/2 a cap popped off and some sharp edges smoothed out. He is ready to start working.

Now, cause I always understand things better with a visual, I was looking for some pictures to post to show what some of these dental issues looked like, instead, I found this really good article, complete with pictures that explains everything that most horses have going on in their mouths...Equine Dental Article.

So far, the only horse we have that has anything outside of the "normal" dental issues is Moon. He has what the dentist calls a "scissor-mouth". Basically, that means his teeth angle too sharply, resembling scissor blades when they come together. The dentist fixed that problem in Moon, but he is a horse that will always require more dental care than the average horse. The best I can hope for on Moon, is going a year between floats. Seven to nine months is better, but since I was unable to get this guy this winter, Moon will be worked on in May. That puts him slightly over the one year mark this time. Thankfully, the dentist is starting to limit his clientele, so he is not going to be quite as busy as he has been the last couple of years.

So now, I have numerous horses ready to ride and here we are bracing for another blizzard and significant amounts of snow...groan. If we thought winter was long and cold, this spring is proving to be even more difficult.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I can't imagine having to stand that many horses for floats, none-the-less being the dentist or vet who does all those floats. That takes so much muscle if they don't have dremel tools. I don't even want to imagine paying for all those floats.

Mrs Mom said...

Speaking of, I need to get Sonny Bunz lined up for a check up sometime in the next couple months. He is at the nine month mark I think...

Saw a case the other day that I wish I had grabbed the camera for- a parrot mouth. The upper teeth had to be at LEAST an inch over the lower ones. (Dear Husband says it may have been closer to an inch and a half over...) I don't know how she is eating, but she is eating and eating WELL. Nice 2 yr old filly, great big butt, nice build... but that mouth-- WOW. Blew me away.

Bracing for ANOTHER damn blizzard? Girl, are you guys ready to head SOUTH yet for a break???? Let me know when you are- we'll fire up the smoker and put on a feed!!

HA~ Word verification word:

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

NM-All I had to do was bring horses in. The dentist runs a chain over the support beam in the barn, puts that halter on them and raises their heads with a rope and pully system. Works slicker than snot. He also uses power tools. I don't think I would go back to the old-fashioned rasp unless I was desperate. There is significantly less damage to the soft tissue inside the mouth with the power tools.
I was mildly surprised at the reasonable cost to do this bunch. These were the ones we deemed probably the worst in need. His base cost is $75/horse and then he charges extra for hooks. And because the 4-y/o only had a few sharp edges he only charged $50 for him. A lot of these dentists "start" at $150 a horse and charge more if they need extras. That is just highway robbery in my mind and part of the reason we have struggled to stay on top of getting dental work done. It will definitely have added up by the time everyone is done-but I reminded mom that we don't have to pay a farrier.;)

MM-I had a barrel horse that was HORRIBLY parrot mouthed. On top of that, he had very soft teeth and several had just broken and fallen out(he was just a 6y/o when I got lucky enough to have a really good dentist work on his teeth and he explained all that to me). He required dental work every 6 or 7 months. Ohhh, this give me a good idea for a post!!

Vaquerogirl said...

I'm lucky that my Vet is also one of the best equine dentist around. He is expensive though- I wish it were as 'sheap' as yours were. (Cheap being a relative term!!)
I have one to do this year, the rescue Mare- Glacier. She really needs it!

Andrea said...

Oh, I love power tools!! And those lights they wear on their heads!! You sure did have a nice line up for the dentist. Not a single dull moment! hee hee hee, dull, okay, maybe I am the only one laughing.

Great post, and that article had great pictures!!

cdncowgirl said...

BECG - I have to say I disagree with you on the power tools. There have been a few reports that not enough study was done to understand how they heat up the tooth (pulp, enamel, everything). Plus unless a person is VERY skilled they can do too much damage too quickly. Also I have never seen a horse worked on with power tools that wasn't sedated, with hand tools you can at least *try* to work without drugs. In fact the last time our was out he only drugged 1 horse out of the 6.
I do have to say that a good eq. dentist is just as valuable to have as a good vet and a good farrier.

Leah Fry said...

The first time I saw those power tools was Pokey's first float with me. I wish my dentist would use hand tools. The whole process looks so rough. When the happy juice wore off later, Poco walked over to me and laid his head in my arms.

Another reason I don't like the power tools is the anesthesia, which suppresses the horse's ability to regulate body temp. Poco was literally dripping with sweat by the time we got home from the procedure. I only had him for 2 months then, but even I could tell he wasn't himself for days.

kdwhorses said...

YOu got alot accomplished! Woo Hoo! Not another blizzard~darn it! They are calling for rain and 30 degree temps here starting tomorrow night and lasting most of the week. Of course because hubby just started his long days off! Figures!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

very interesting post! Thanks for sharing. Well, that isn't too bad on prices, I guess, but still, quite a chunk of money, isn't it.
I wish he'd come out my way. lol.

jenny said...

It might be hard to imagine, but a fetus begins to form tiny teeth buds as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

A mother's oral health is essential to the health of the fetus. Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to gingivitis, or gum disease, which may travel through the blood stream to the uterus, and to the baby, sometimes causing premature labor and lower birth weight. If you're expecting, make sure you see us regularly during your pregnancy, and pay particular attention to your oral health home care.
park city dentist