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Tooth Sand
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Connecticut's Approach To Equine Dentistry

The state of Connecticut has worked out an arrangement between vets and lay dentists that seems to work well. The floating of horses teeth was deemed a non-veterinary procedure in 1998. Though the scope of a lay dentists practice is limited very strictly to floating teeth with hand held rasps. The sedating of horses remains a licensed procedure that only vets may perform. Connecticut made these changes because the Ct. vet board decided to go heavy handed against a well respected lay dentist. They dragged Bob Simard before the board and found him to be practicing veterinary medicine. Under the threat of prison time Bob had to stop floating teeth. The goodwill Bob's named generated in the horse community along with the Ct Farm Bureau allowed us to push through the change to the veterinary license. Bob could go back to floating teeth.
The Connecticut Legislature was also wise in it's reluctance to license those of us who float teeth. No community talks more than the horse community and bad apples are found out. The Traditional Equine Dentist , even a really lousy one, would have difficulty doing lasting harm to a patient. Hand held files and the more measured float they achieve take time to get a mouth right. You have to be a real overachiever to overfloat a mouth. Since TEDs rarely have their patients sedated we are much more in tune with how our patient are doing. Again it's harder to screw one up when they aren't sedated. The reverse of this situation exists with many of the newly trained power horse dentists. Almost all of their patients are sedated so other than bleeding no feedback is possible. Then the risks of the new power tools add a new wrinkle to the mix. Whether it's the danger of a too aggressive grit which takes off to much tooth or the hazard of a clogged grinder which no longer files, but instead dangerously overheats the tooth. Finally lay dentist must always keep in mind their position in the equine health care hierarchy. We provide a very valuable service, but it shouldn't go beyond floating teeth. If it does then they should be working more closely with the veterinary community.
In Connecticut the horse community still has choices. That's always a good thing!

Posted by horse_tooth_floater at 10:21 PM EDT
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Bleak Future For Lay Dentistry?

During the twenty five years I've been floating teeth in the traditional manner I've watched the field change. While overall there are more people floating teeth all is not well. Fewer lay persons are choosing to develop their skills the slower way by apprenticeship. Most are choosing to go to some "school" and get a quickie education. None of these "schools" are actually accredited. The certifications they give are there own creations. Most of the graduates are skilled in the use of power tools for horses teeth. That creates a secondary problem in that we lay persons can not sedate horses legally. So either the new dentist works illegally or is simply some vets grinder monkey.
There is a need for these new tools. They are useful in the neglected or misshaped mouth, but in the day to day upkeep of a horses mouth they are overkill. Those individuals who use these tools often need to diminish the talents of Traditional Equine Dentists. This attempted to marginalize TEDs plays right into the veterinary establishments hands. When the vets make all power tools illegal in lay persons hands and force the new age dentists to become their employees I hope there are still a few of us TEDs around.
If we lay dentists ever hope to win recognition as valuable, legal, professionals we need use more traditional means. The hand floats have been in our hands since long before veterinary colleges and licensing. This practical common sense approach to horse dentistry is still the best approach for the horse community.

Posted by horse_tooth_floater at 10:04 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 29 October 2009 10:12 PM EDT
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