Monday, June 1, 2009

Misty's Monday Muse

Spring! Tis the season for veterinary care. Marley and I have been busy with our check-ups and we have pictures to share.

Usually, our equine general veterinarian (like a human's primary care physician) takes care of our teeth, but this time My Lady called a specialist; an equine dentist/chiropractor. My Lady is very glad she made that call because it turns out we needed a little more than the routine floating performed by our general veterinarian. (Floating is the process of leveling and smoothing a horse's teeth when they wear unevenly).

I went first. They doped me up with some drugs and put a big dental speculum in my mouth to prop my jaws open. I was backed into a corner so I wouldn't fall down while under sedation.

My legs are wobbly.

Feelin' Groovy.

I had some very sharp points on my teeth that were causing ulcerations on the inside of my cheek. Ouch!

The dentist used her power tool to grind down those sharp points and make my teeth level and smooth. Her assistant helped hold my head up. Nobody has ever accused me of being petite; I have a huge noggin!

Bye bye sharp points.

A close up of the power tool in action.
The assistant holds my tongue out of the way.

Equine dentists use a combination of power tools and other instruments much like a human dentist.

In addition to those sharp points, the dentist found the root of a cap (baby tooth) wedged between my molars. I'm 6 years old and this thing should have fallen out by the time I was 4. She said it probably felt like I had a piece of popcorn stuck between my teeth. Imagine if you had popcorn stuck between your teeth for 2 years! The nice dentist extracted the root. Ah, relief at last.

The annoying baby root that shouldn't have been there.

The dentist also found that my TMJ (temporomandibular joint) was a little stuck. This might account for the strange noise My Lady has heard when I chew my food. Since the dentist is also a trained equine chiropractor, she put her hands under my jaw and with a quick move and a popping sound, she adjusted it.

The dentist points to my TMJ.

All done, but still dopey.

Since I had a few issues and seem to wear down my teeth a lot, I'll be visiting with the dentist again in six months.

Next it was Marley's turn. His bite was better than mine and his teeth looked pretty good considering he hadn't been floated in more than a year. However, he did have a cavity. Too many Pony Pops Marley!

Marley gets a minor float.

Leveling Marley's incisors.

Rinse and spit.

Horses don't get cavities very often because their teeth are much harder than human teeth. But it can happen. The dentist filled Marley's cavity because it was large. Equine dentists use the same filling material as used on people and they cure the filling with the same kind of blue light. They don't like to numb the tooth though, because a horse won't understand not to rub their face raw if they can't feel it. The sedation has some general pain killer within and Marley was a trooper. He didn't react to the filling at all. In fact, the dentist said it was the easiest filling she's done in a long time. Good boy Marley.

Here is Marley's pretty new filling. Yes, this is Marley's mouth, not that of a hippopotamus. Look for the part of the tooth at the left that is all white, where the dentist is shining the light. Click to enlarge.

Those dark spots in the center of the other teeth are typical. Horses don't have teeth covered in enamel like people. Our teeth are made up of enamel and dentin, so those ugly dark spots are not decay, but are normal.

Marley is done, but still in la-la land.

While sedated, the dentist was kind enough to take care of Marley's personal hygiene needs unique to the boys. To maintain Marley's dignity and keep this blog G-rated, we did not take pictures of that!

If you would like to know more, here is an interesting article from U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine about Equine Dentistry.

You humans with the opposable thumbs...remember to brush and floss tonight!


  1. Good post. A lot of problems with horse behavior can be attributed to poor dental health. We always use the same sort of dentist that you did and have solved lots of problems with our horses teeth.

  2. Great visuals & write-up, thanks for sharing! I'm sure they feel better already.

  3. Funny coincidence that your horses got the dental work done at the same time as ours, lol!
    Fame also had a baby tooth left which was removed, but that kind of got lost in the worries of the damaged tooth.

  4. I'm a believer in horse dentists now. She found a lot of things my regular vet was missing.
    HorseOfCourse, can Fame's tooth be saved?

  5. What a wonderful post! Very informative. I wish your dentist lived near us! She seems very thorough.

  6. Oooo! Dentist! Love it when ours comes to visit. Sonny isn't so sure about getting things done, but he stands really really well for Mr. Cashin.

    As to your question: I think in your case, as a preventative, you might be better off checking out the gel-form of White Lightening. ( I think is the web addy. If not, email me and I'll double check that for you-

    Clean Trax can be used as a preventative, and it does an amazing job. It isn't overly expensive, BUT. (Theres always a but right?) It is a PIA to apply and use. Unless your horse will stand for 45 mins with two feet in buckets at a time, I'd go with the gel form White Lightening. Clean Trax we use in extremely severe cases of infection.

    Hope that helps!

  7. An old friend of the family is an equine dentist and has taught me various bits along the way so I try and maintain my horses' teeth the best I can, particularly as a couple of them are approaching old age. I even have a set of tools now including, speculums, floats, blades and Equine Capps Inserts. But it beggars belief that horse owners go to vets instead of specialist dentists. Would you go see your doctor if you had a toothache or a problem with your mouth or teeth?... I thought not either!