Sunday, March 17, 2013

Smile, Lilly!

Lilly got her teeth floated yesterday by a really nice, older gentleman that came highly recommended by my barn owner. He floats the teeth without the aid of sedation, and he uses good old fashion muscles to do all the work. No power tools and no drugs! She was getting her horses' teeth floated too, so she added me to the appointment list and Mr Teeth Floater Guy came out and floated all the horses at the barn.

I wasn't able to get any pictures of the process because I was holding Lilly and being educated on teeth floating, but it went better than I expected. Lilly was REALLY good, but she was clearly confused about what the heck was happening to her. We did her teeth in the stall and she backed up into the corner as far as she could, but tolerated the process quite well. There were a couple times where she grabbed hold of the file and wouldn't let go, but Mr Teeth Floater Guy just laughed at her and stuck his thumb in her mouth to get her to let go. He was surprised that she had never been done without sedation.

The whole experience lasted about 15 minutes but he said her teeth were really sharp and she was a bit overdue. I told him I have her floated every spring, but he said her molars don't sit in a straight line in her mouth, so since they're a bit staggered, they get sharp faster. He suggested that she get her teeth floated about every 8 months instead of every year. He showed me how to check for the sharp points way back in her mouth and said he'd come out again in the fall if she started to give me trouble or showed any signs of being uncomfortable.


Mr Teeth Floater Guy would like to remain anonymous, and I've been asked to keep the details to myself if my vet asks about Lilly's teeth. And I know she will, because she already looked at them earlier this year and told me they needed done, so I'll just have to say, "they've been taken care of." This poor guy has been sued by veterinary practices (cases were thrown out of court) so he's a little gun shy these days and is leary about taking on new clients. I only got him because he's been doing my BO's horses for years. I consider myself quite lucky!

21 comments:

  1. I am deadly curious as to why he would have been sued by vets...

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    1. Floating teeth, even without sedation, is considered "Animal Dentistry" and the NC Veterinary Practice Act states that Animal Dentistry can ONLY be performed by a licensed veterinarian, or under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Since he doesn't have a veterinarian with him when he floats, they decided to take him to court.

      I think maybe it has more to do with money than anything, because if you knew what this guy charged me compared to what my vet charges me... you'd be in shock!

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    2. Actually, I think I was wrong... ONLY a licensed vet can do dental work. Period. In some states, as long as you have a vet with you, you're good, but that's not the case in NC.

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  2. Interesting about not using sedation, does he use a speculum? And I understand the being anonymous part - we have an equine dentist in the area that's awesome - that's specifically what he went to school for so he's really good, but since he's not a vet, he's not allowed to do sedation on people's horses in our state, so he's a bit on the DL, lol.

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    1. He didn't use a speculum and I wondered how he was going to get in there to look around and do the filing without one. He didn't seem to have an issue, though, except for the few times Lilly decided to bite down on the file.

      I can see the benefit to having a vet around if you're going to use a sedative, but it seems silly to have a law that states only a licensed veterinarian can do dental work of any kind. That's what our law in NC says...

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  3. Our equine dentist is also not a vet, but he brings a vet with him to do the sedation, so that makes him legit under our state's law. He travels a lot around the country and is pretty highly regarded, and I'm not aware of any legal trouble he's had. He's a natural balance dentist, and also doesn't use power tools, although he does (carefully) use a speculum and also does use sedation as it makes it easier on the horse and he can more easily get to the far back teeth. Most of the vets in my area do teeth, but most of them frankly aren't very good. My guy is very good about assessing TMJ function and the relationship of the horse's bite - particularly the incisors which many vets and dentists neglect.

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    1. Sounds like your guy doesn't have any issues because he has a licensed veterinarian with him. I think that's a good idea if you're going to use a sedative for sure.

      Last year, a friend's horse had a serious reaction to a sedative he was given for his teeth floating procedure and they ended up having to put him down. I'm becoming a less is more kind of person these days, and if I can get away with not having to sedate Lilly, I think that's best for her.

      When I saw the look on her face yesterday, though, I was actually having second thoughts. She looked really confused and kept looking to me during the process. I just kept talking to her while I scratched her withers until he was done.

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    2. I hear you on the sedatives...last spring we had a dentist come. I didn't have Missy sedated but a couple of my barn owner's horses were sedated. One of the horses, an 8 year old OTTB, had a SEVERE allergic reaction to the sedative. They took him to a fantastic equine clinic and spent thousands of dollars trying to save him. They still had to put him down in the end. I have NEVER seen a horse go down hill so fast and look so sick, but the image is forever ingrained in my memory. It was horribly sad and made me really nervous about sedation...

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  4. Some horses are allergic to some seditives - I know of a horse that was allergic to dermosadan, a commonly used sedative. There were alternate sedatives he could use for veterinary procedures. I also once had a horse who had a severe penicillin allergy. Unfortunately, sometimes you only find out about these things when they happen for the first time. Fortunately, most horses have no problem.

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  5. Dr. Gary does teeth exactly the same way as Mr. Teeth Floater guy does. He's seen a lot of cases where folks went crazy with the power tools and really messed up a mouth. I don't think he's against seditives, but our guys don't need it.

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    1. I'm not against sedatives either, but I'd like to see the vet/dentist give the horse an opportunity to behave without it. It's just an automatic thing these days... at least around here. Lilly certainly didn't need it, at least not for a basic float.

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  6. Sounds like an interesting deal - the only qualms I have are the legal issues and your statement "he said her molars don't sit in a straight line in her mouth, so since they're a bit staggered, they get sharp faster", has me a little worried. All horses have a degree of malocclusion to their upper and lower molars - please tell me he wasn't referring to that, and he is talking about the same arcade of teeth? I do dislike the excessive use of power tools (these have done way more harm than good!) and the heavy usage of sedatives - those are always a good thing to keep in mind. As vet med is progressing, dentistry is not simply a file them down practice anymore but a board certification and very similar to human dentistry in practice with specifics towards the animal species themselves. I've even seen a root canal done on a small dog! There can be horrible dentists that are vets and terrible lay dentists too - always use your best judgement and do what is right by you and your horse (and staying legal is always good too! ;D)

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    1. Honestly, I'm not sure exactly what he was referring to when he said that. He just followed up by saying Lilly's molars were quite sharp and had me feel Lilly's teeth and then had me feel one of the other horse's teeth. I could definitely tell the difference between hers and his. Perhaps he meant she just has a higher degree of it than normal horses?

      I'm just happy I was able to find someone that was willing to omit the use of power tools and sedation. I think for a basic 'float', neither of those things are needed. A friend of mine had a horse whose teeth were so badly filed down by a vet with power tools that he has to be fed mash and soaked hay... he can no longer chew properly. It's all just so terrifying.

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  7. He sounds like a great dentist! My equine dentist does it all the old fashioned way too. He didnt use sedatives on Poppy but when I used to have Ritchie he would go a little crazy so he had to be sedated.
    Lol at Lily holding the file in her mouth.

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    1. I definitely like the old fashion way better! Sedatives aren't a bad thing with horses that need it. I'm sure you get much better results that way.

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  8. It frustrates me so much - the vet vs. dentist debate, i'm sure it's similar in the states but in Canada, vet's only do about a month - at most - of dental work during school. Frankly, I would not trust a doctor who has only been briefed on teeth to do my own, why would I with my horse?

    Jingle's jaw problems make him a bit of a special case, but i've now dealt with two dentists, and one vet... the first dentist had a bit too much bravado with me, and his techniques were not the best. He too, has been sued, but for reasons that make sense. The vet claimed a lot of things... that all turned out to be walking the fine line between someone not truly knowing what they were talking about. Finally, i've found a super reputable, wonderful dentist that I truly appreciate to have in my phonebook. Not only is he well-read, and well-trained in dentistry, but he knows so much about massage/chiro/etc and so he can really aid in TMJ issues, spine being out of whack, etc. However, he uses sedation.. I can't imagine Jingle being floated without sedation, I think he'd try to kill everyone involved! haha.

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    1. I can see why the vets and the horse community would be cautious about people who aren't vets going around doing dentistry. Anybody could decide to declare themselves a dentist and start floating teeth, and that could go really wrong. I just don't see why an equine dentist, who has been to school and probably knows more than most vets about teeth, can't do it just because. Your dentist sounds like a prime example... someone like him should be able to float teeth.

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    2. I completely agree, when I'm looking for an equine dentist i'm not necessarily looking for, or not looking for a vet, but for someone who is well educated and continues to educate themselves in dentistry as well as body form & function. I definitely need someone with SOME form of accreditation before i'd just let them work on my horses teeth but I also look for someone who has excellent references, continues to educate themselves, trains others, goes to conferences, works alongside vets and other practitioners, etc.. But, having gone down the road of using a vet.. because a vet, is a vet... I know better now than to completely trust that route.

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  9. Mr Teeth Floater guy sounds like my vet from when I was teenager. I don't think he used a sedative and no speculum, plus no power tools. The vet I use now specializes in equine dentistry and she has told me that is her favorite thing to do. She does sedate and uses power tools, but I trust her since that is her specialty.
    That's fantastic that Lilly was so good!

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    1. In Michigan, we had an equine dentist do our horses and they sedated and used power tools. I never thought anything of it then, because the guy was good. It's when those tools get into the wrong hands that things can go bad. Sounds like you have a great dentist as well!

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  10. If he is an equine dentist... has training and longevity in the job... why would they sue him if no bad cases have been found? Wow. Lucky you in finding him.

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