Power Dentistry and The Theoretical Equine Dentist
Traditional Equine Dentists have always known the meaning of hard work. There is no way around it, floating teeth is very demanding work. Those who never learned the satisfaction of properly floating a horses teeth by hand have always yearned for an easier way. The industry has always been constrained by turf wars with veterinarians, by the physical demands of the job and by the need for horsemanship skills. Some Vets and Farriers describe their happiest day, "when they threw out the floats and started referring all their floatings to a lay dentist." Most vets considered the mouth off limits and many referred all their floats to lay person experienced in that area.
In the late 1990's that was the situation, but things were about to change. Late in the 1990's power tools began appearing for use inside the horses mouth for floating. The adaptation of power tools for floating teeth suddenly made the mouth more interesting. Vets began to float teeth in growing numbers. Lay dentists, sedating horses in order to use power tools began appearing on the scene. Schools began cropping up teaching individuals from all walks of life to float teeth. Lay persons began initially themselves with self created degrees. Horse dentistry began taking on a medicine show mentality. A " theoretical dentist " might come to town from far away to enlighten the locals. Only after they had finished and left town would the gravity of what had been done sink in. New theories began to proliferate. Theories like the "super occlusion" where the incisors were filed until they no longer touched in the misguided belief that this would help the molars meet better. Many horses were harmed before this theory was discredited.
Since the advent of power tools for use inside the mouths of horses, there has been an explosion of new "experts" in the field. Some of these experts feel their mandate is to completely reinvent the field of equine dentistry and the purpose of floating teeth. Often the theories they are pushing make no sense to someone who has been in the field and has " real world" experience. Many of these theories have been developed while studying cadavers or skulls rather than working in a living laboratory, a population of horses. There have been many instances where these individuals have left horses unable to eat for days and some horses were no longer able to be bridled after an over aggressive float using power tools. The most puzzling aspect of this type of dentistry? Usually these patients had no prior issues that needed resolution. A simple maintenance float was all that was needed. The ethos of anyone floating teeth must be," first, do no harm".
Since the mouth is often misunderstood by these new dentists, their core philosophies are often flawed. They miss the concept that the mouth must first be a machine that grinds their daily ration. Far too much tooth is often removed in hopes of making everything level and smooth. Today many of these "theoretical dentists" have a facination with the twelve incisors. Prior to the advent of power tools horses incisors were barely noted during a typical exam. Although there has been very little research into these theories, many "experts" are now pushiing this 21st century agenda. Now function and comfort have taken a backseat to TMJ issues. There is currently no research that suggests that adjusting the incisors can effect the TMJ in any way, shape or form. These theories have no basis in science but instead are dreamed up by those with very little real world experience. Any horse dentist that spends much time on the incisors should be viewed with suspicion. TMJ issues are the " snake oil" of modern equine dentistry......BEWARE.