A Good Dental Day

One of the great aspects of being an equine veterinarian is that it is never the same day after day or at least that is how I like my days to play out. For example, just the other day we did a molar extraction, followed by a few wellness exams and immunizations, and lastly a pre-purchase exam which leads into “can you figure out why this horse isn’t traveling correctly”.

After my morning coffee in the truck, we drove to our first farm to complete a molar extraction from a horse that had a continuous draining tract from its mandible. Fortunately, we did do previous x-rays that helped to identify the tooth in question in the mandible. After we sedated the horse and flushed the mouth the odor of a bad tooth evoked all five senses. Usually the odor is similar to a swamp. We then did a regional nerve block and a local anesthetic block with lidocaine and created a “balanced” anesthesia protocol. Let me say that a intraoral tooth extraction can be an exercise in patience as well as shear exercise. With the use of a few big tools we extricated the tooth with the infected root from its home. Whewww…. So glad that this extraction was a success. Antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (bute) were provided. A human impression material, that smells like wild berry (mmmmm), was placed in the socket after the extraction to allow for improved healing.

We sped off to our next appointment. A little truck time helped cool us off in the summer heat and humidity. The day was young. Our next appointment provided us a chance do our wellness exams on a few horses along with their immunizations. These exams can be very important to help recognize general health, feet, teeth, or other issues. After looking over the horses and deciding who needed dentals (floats) sooner than later, we drew blood for a horse that most likely has Cushings. Oftentimes you will notice a Cushings horse by the excessive amount of hair remaining on the body mid-summer and a thinner frame compared to the previous year.

Lastly, we traveled to do a prepurchase examination on a 5 year old gelding. The exam went well other than trying to apply some alcohol over the girth to do a mobile EKG on the patient. The alcohol apparently triggered the hind foot to quickly move forward. You always have to be vigilant when doing an exam! A handful of blood draws and pictures for our digital coggins were next followed by the mysterious lameness. The complaint was that the horse did not want to move in a straight line under saddle. A good lameness exam with palpation and flexions followed by a chiropractic exam led to an oral exam. Viola!! The teeth had been the issue. The very rear bottom molars were excessively tall (caudal hooks) and needed to be corrected. Thank goodness to modern equine dentistry, we were able to use our battery operated float to smooth down those forgotten molars. What a good day…