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Nacogdoches vet clinic shows advances in equine dentistry

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 2:10 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2021 at 10:56 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - In the last twenty years, great advancements in equine dentistry have been made. Yet, veterinarians say many horse owners don’t understand the benefits. A Nacogdoches veterinarian is changing that through dental house calls.

At the SFA Equine Center horses line up for a dental checkup. Well trained they are, but the 1,000 plus pound patients can’t be told to open wide.

“They’re putting on what we call oral speculum,” explained Dr. Derek Grant, a veterinarian with the Ward Animal Hospital.

Like at any dental office the sounds are worse than the procedure. A hard cranking sound comes from the device as it’s sized to the animal’s mouth.

“It’s used to open up his mouth. Look at his teeth. Evaluate the sharp edges and see if there are any ulcers, loose teeth,” says Dr. Grant.

Even the most experienced horse owner may rarely look in their horse’s mouth. Ward Animal Hospital in Nacogdoches is now offering mobile equine dentistry to serve the horse and educate the owner.

“With our dental work we extend a horse’s life with dental work with more than anything else we do,” said Grant.

A sharp or loose tooth leads to gum discomfort. Horses can adapt, providing no indication that something is wrong until weight loss sets in.

A vet oversees the mild sedative. Certified dental providers, with years of training, use motorized instruments to grind sharp edges.

“We been learning every time we do one. Everyone is different,” said Orlando Vidales.

Eduardo Figueroa notes both men trained for five years to do the exams.

“For me it’s not like work. I like to do that every day. I’m happy with my work.”

Horse owner Katelyn Stiles watches closely as her 14-year-old paint received dental care. She’s the first in a family of horse owners to seek out an equine dentistry.

“I make sure to stay on track with it. Make sure he stays healthy for me to ride,” said Stiles of making sure her horse is checked annually.

A changing attitude about equine dental care will help guarantee years of partnership between horse and rider. And that’s something to smile about.

Veterinarians recommend annual check-ups. The cost is about $155 or more depending on the condition of the teeth and the vet used. More serious problems are usually handled at the vet clinic.

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