My Day With A Real Dentist – An Equine Dentistry Perspective

Geoff Tucker, DVM EDWD Post Leave a Comment

Confidence And Respect

Today I spent a few hours with a real dentist. Wow! Actually, I was in the easy seat while my wife sat in the hot seat. My wife is the sweetest gal in the world …… until she goes to the dentist.

We had been assured that this guy was good with patients like my wife. And I must admit, he was great! While he examined her, I watched and learned.

As you know, I still live in the dark ages as far as equine dentistry goes. The new dentists drug every horse, jack the mouth open with a speculum, hang the head from the ceiling, and use motorized rasps. I don’t do any of this. Neither did the dentist my wife saw today.

So I asked myself why I don’t. The answers came to me today as I watched the DDS work. He used people skills and diffused most of the fear in the room. As an observer, I could see him do the same things to his patient that I do with mine. Basically, there were two tools used. First was confidence. Second was respect for others. These two have a relationship with each other and they are synergistic. In other words, they are worth more together than just the addition of each other.

Today people from auto mechanics to stockbrokers to politicians lack confidence and respect of others and therefore the public no longer trusts them

The DDS knew what he was doing and was not afraid to unfold his plan as he went along with his exam. It was like any exploration, filled with “wows” and “look at this” followed by, “based on what I have found so far, we should take this route of action.” It wasn’t filled with an agenda. This is where the respect for others comes in.

The DDS talked with my wife and not down to her. He requested that she become a part of the exploration and sought her understanding and permission to advance. I have to tell you, it sure worked better than drugging her, jacking her mouth open, and hanging her head from the ceiling.

The Human Approach To Humans Based On Evidence

Now here is where things did differ. The DDS performed a thorough exam of each tooth including a full set of X-rays and a video of the inside of her mouth. He wanted to identify all the problems and educate her so she could make an informed decision as to the treatment. These observations and conclusions were based on decades of research and studies on millions of people throughout the world. This research has also been funded by an abundant supply of money from companies that earn their living from human dentistry. In addition, many of these treatments use space age materials not easily available for equine use. Most importantly, it is based on HUMAN teeth.

Horse teeth are made in a completely different pattern than human teeth. Most obvious is the well-known fact that horses teeth continually erupt throughout most of their lives. Even more obvious is that horse’s teeth can be filed with a steel rasp with no bad effects. Try that once on a human tooth and get ready for infection, pain, and loss of the tooth.

Modern Equine Dentistry Is Not Based In Evidence

So why are today’s equine dentists applying human theory and applications to horses? The new equine dentists talk about dental cavities, infections of the gum line, root abscesses, bite alignment, incisor reduction, table angle, and other things when in reality, none of the theories have been proven or, for that matter, correctly studied. There is not enough money for research in equine dentistry. Power tools have existed for only a short time and their widespread use for an even shorter time. There are no studies of neck damage caused by suspending their drugged weight from the ceiling. Most glaring to me are the statements I read on almost every equine dental web site. One statement says there is significant soft tissue damage done with hand rasps while the precision use of power tools prevents this. Frankly, the horse’s sharp teeth have created most of the soft tissue damage before the dentist arrived at the barn. Many horses bleed every day but it goes unnoticed because it is swallowed. Another common statement is this. If the cheek teeth don’t come together then the horse won’t be able to chew his food properly, thus an incisor reduction is required. Next time you chew, note that your cheek teeth mash up the food just fine without coming together. Has anyone studied the effect of dental auto-correction in the horse? If a horse chews between 10,000 and 40,000 times a day (Dr K. Houpt – professor emeritus Cornell University), won’t any “imbalances” be cleared up in a short time whether or not the teeth were filed correctly?

How does one build the tallest building in town? There are two ways. You can either put the effort into building the tallest building, or you can put the effort into tearing all the other buildings down. I feel that the new dentists are into demolition of established practitioners because it is easier than establishing their own credentials. The real dentist I saw today has built his practice on trust and referrals. He uses equipment tested on millions of humans with validated performance that does no harm to the patient. He uses personal skills to relate to people and gains their trust and confidence. My wife and I feel comfortable with this real dentist.

My wife spent an hour on the phone tonight telling her friend, who is more scarred than her of the dentist, that she needs to go visit her new DDS. He has earned her confidence – enough for her to recommend him. I want you to feel that same confidence in me every time I visit your barn.

Thanks, Doc T

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