Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Horse's Mouth: Equine Dentist Visit!

Sunday was Dentist Day for Johnnie and my new boarding barn mates. Finally I got to meet some of the others who board at this lovely quiet place. What a nice group of ladies. We were united in admiration of our equine dentist. The photo above is of his traveling rig. The horses go in the back and rest their heads or necks in a padded collar; a single stall has been narrowly walled in the middle to hold them up when they're sedated.

Our dentist is a vet who specialized in equine dental care, invented most of his own tools, and covers a wide area. He is also single and owns a 4000-acre horse and cattle ranch in South Dakota - "All the single ladies, put your hands up!" He remembers a lot of info about each client and each horse even though there are hundreds of both in a given year of his practice. And he wears hot looking jeans and cowboy boots.

He's been doing my horses' teeth for some years now, and I've noticed an interesting phenomenon of improved personal hygiene on dentist day, among my horsegirl friends. A touch of lipstick takes the place of chapstick, or the cleaner jeans appear. There have even been hopeful paper plates of chocolate chip cookies. But so far no senorita has become his senora over the grinding of equine molars.

He's delightful to talk to and we had a nice chat about retirement. I made my little gallows-humor joke about my fully invested retirement fund which has taken such a beating I may be teaching until I'm 273 years old. I said, Anyway no reason to retire as long as you are having fun!

And he said, And every day, or really every horse, is different and challenging. Every horse's mouth is different, and they will surprise you: the best bred, best cared for horse will have a terrible mouth, while a woolly muddy old heffalump will have gorgeous dentition. You just never know!

His eyes were just sparkling when he talked about his work. That's the way it should be for everyone!!

Here's John getting his points ground down:

Johnnie has "a very nice mouth" and doesn't need too much work; indeed I won't get to see our dentist friend for two years now unless I happen upon dental day.

The horse before John had a tooth blow up and there was blood, pus, stench, the owner almost fainted, the trailer door flew open and her white face appeared as Dr. Charming unfolded a chair for her to sit in the breeze and watch the clean-up. After me was an owner who was just praying that her aged horse's molars could last out another year and not be pulled; they were loose in their sockets last year at this time.

John is strongly affected by anaesthesia even though Dr. HotRanch uses 1/2 the usual amount for him; so I waited until I saw this little expression:

before I could leave.

It was a really interesting day and I just love knowing all of John's teeth are smooth and in good shape. He did have a pocket of some weird business going on in the front upper gum. Dr. DreamGuy said this might go away with the post-work bute he gave. And today I couldn't find it but I don't trust my skills as John doesn't really let me explore his gums the way he lets Doctor Slowhands do it.

So Happy Trails to You our much-admired Equine Dentist!! We'll put our lipsticks away for another time...sigh.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have an excellent dentist - what a nice rig he's driving! I like your picture of John - he's certainly out of it! Dental care is so important for horses - I wish more horse owners paid attention to it - I've bought horses with terrible mouths that needed lots of work that could have been avoided if they had had regular dental care.

Flying Lily said...

Kate, I totally agree. While it's true that "no hoof no horse" is paramount, we should probably also be saying no teeth no horse as that's the way it is. Johnnie goes into La-La Land with the slightest bit of medication and he takes forever to recover.

Grey Horse Matters said...

It's great to have a horse with good teeth and a good check up. I wish everyone would take care of their horses teeth, it's so important. Glad you had a good day and so did Johnnie.

Pony Girl said...

Hello....single lady raising her hand here! NO pictures of Dr. Charming?? ;) I'm glad your horsey's teeth are better. I witnessed my horse's first teeth floating this year and it was a little overwhelming. Both the procedure and the drugging of my loopy boy!

c2b said...

Wow that is some trailer. You lot over the pond really know how to make trailers. We never see anything like that over here.

Do all horses over there get sedated on dentist day? I don't know anyone that has a horse that needs sedating for routine dentistry.

As for Mr Hotty, send him here. I have an old man who is lovely to the horses but not so good on the eyes as Mr Hotty sounds.

lytha said...

Hey, they have those dental rigs down south too? I have two equine dentists back home in the Pacific NW, and they both have rigs like that. In fact, one of them elluded to me that his was unique. Not so unique afterall, if John was in one yesterday!

Does he give you dental charts too? I have a collection of charts (pictures of the teeth and how they grow and how they were cut) given to me the last 8 years or so, so the dentist can quickly see what was done last time and track changes.

Does he charge about 500$? OK you don't have to answer that! Last time Baasha needed a lot of work.

NOW - how to find such a dentist in EUROPE!??! AGGHHH, help! No, a normal vet is not gonna cut it - I'm spoiled now: )

It goes without saying he/she won't have a travelling clinic - in Europe most horse trailers are sardine cans on wheels. That's cuz the roads were all built before cars were invented.

Lucky John, I hope I find one here.


lytha said...

c2b - I can answer the sedation question. The reason they have to be sedated is because this is not a rasping procedure - this invovles motorized tools. These mechanical tools do very precise work - each tooth can be individually worked on. Also, they don't only work on molars - they use a special instrument to trim down the horses' front teeth too. Effectively taking years off their lives (haha, that's an old joke they're tired of hearing). The dentists typically wear headlights so they can see back there better, and they wear medical masks because of the fine dust that is produced by the machines.

It's kind of horrible to observe, if you are like me and have dentist phobia. Sometimes I have to turn away because it hurts me to see my baby standing there, head in a sling, with such loud machines working cutting his teeth down. But what's amazing is my horse will get back in that trailer next year with no issues. *I* wouldn't!

I wish Flying Lily had posted pics of the tools!


Flying Lily said...

GreyHorse: It's such a good feeling to hear those points going away under the grinder.

PonyGirl: I wanted to get a picture of his rear end but it seemed...risky. Isn't it weird to see your horse on drugs?! they become SO helpless.

C2b: They all get a bit of sedation and some need to be practically asleep on their feet. Some don't like going in his trailer. But for all horses, he feels a little sedation lets him really get back in there and do a thorough job. LOL yes we in the U.S. do go in for monster trailers.

Lytha: Yes we get a dental chart too and the spots with work are marked. He charged $90 for the work on John this time. For Montana who typically needed more (hooks, ramps, all the little rough areas) it was usually $120. This being the midwest, we get bargains on some things. I hope you can find a good equine dentist for Baasha. It seems like a very good specialization for a vet - after the initial equipment layout, a manageable practice with immediate benefits for each patient.

Flying Lily said...

Lytha, yes I should have gotten pics of his tools - it is a vast and fascinating collection. Maybe next year - and then I can sneak one of his tushie...And yes it is astonishing how most horses march right back into that trailer year after year.

lytha said...

DOH! Minnesota! SORRY! I knew it was an M state and assumed it was one of the lower ones!

Stephanie said...

Our equine dentist does not come in hot jeans and cowboy boots or a cool trailer...
but, he does come twice a year and has all the power tools and all the horses get sedation. Our regular vet always coordinates with him so he can take care of other medical procedures that can be done while the horses are loopy.

Flying Lily said...

Stephanie, the jeans and boots add a certain something, as does the super-tecchy trailer...for the distances this one travels, it makes sense.

allhorsestuff said...

OH! Mine too only takes a half to 2/3s dose..or she'll litteraly ,fall on over!The first time, not only diod they stap up her jaw..but her! I am taking her inot the dentists local this time...he has a nice padded small encloser he made for the horse. he too made all his own tools!
I loved your descriptions! Had me laughing.

Once Upon an Equine said...

Oh, that was funny. Dr. Slowhands, Dr. DreamGuy, Dr. HotRanch, etc. How does he stay single with all the female horse owners he must meet? Maybe Dr. CommitmentPhobic fits too. Cute post. Glad John's teeth are all smooth and happy now.

ezra_pandora said...

My mare was a nightmare with sedation. She would rear, pin her ears back, try to spin and kick, anything imaginable for no shots. Yeah, imagine the vet every spring :) Anyhow, the equine dentist we have at our barn right now is a dream too, although must not be as good looking as your dentist because no one else bothers to show up to be with their horses, as usual. He doesn't use sedation unless absolutely necessary. I always thought our old equine dentist, who was also magnificent, and hot, used it to make it go faster, but in all honesty, this guy can do 8 horses within about 3 hours. It took the other guy about 45 min to an hour to do one horse with the sedation to kick in and everything. And I thought my girl was going to throw a fit with his little head hardness and working in her mouth, but she was excellent, even with his little drill looking power tool thing, so it surprised us all. We were happy.

It's always good when your horse doesn't have much wrong except some sharp points.

Alexandra said...

If a full treatment is to be done then it's less traumatic for the horse if it is sedated.

Sedations these days are very good and have very little side effects, the vets that sedate for me use Domosedan, as little as possible is used and the horses are fine.

i'd love to have a rig like your horse dentist, unfortunately i'd have to remortgage to fulfill that dream lol

if you'd like to see examples of tools that we use here in Germany then please take a look at my website www.equine-well-being.eu

it's English as well as German


Anonymous said...

I'm located in SE MN and looking for a good equine dentist.
Could you contact me with information about yours? He sounds very knowledgeable and caring.


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garydrew01 said...

I really admire dentists who remember patients frequently. I remember when I had my denture, it was a year ago but my dentist still remembers me. He is so nice, just like your vet dentist.:)

Harriet said...

I know a few horses always need sedation when the dentist visits, so I'm quite fortunate that mine takes to having it's mouth and teeth looked at quite well. I try to maintain my horses teeth with the use of Equine Dentistry Rasps usually once or twice a year, but still have a dentist check-up every spring too.

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