Most horsemen know the old saying, “A hoof can make or break a horse.” Well, so can a tooth. Problems with performance, feeding and behavioral issues, as well as recurring colic, can all be related to trouble with a horse’s mouth and teeth. Just like humans, regular dental exams are a must for all horses, but most horses’ teeth require more than just annual floating. Modern equine dentistry can increase a horse’s longevity, decrease feed bills and increase a rider’s overall enjoyment of their riding companion.
“Equine dentistry has made incredible advancements in the last 20 years,” says Dr. Lisa Grim, main proprietor of Professional Equine Dental Associates in north San Diego County. “The dark age of equine dentistry is over; we now have the knowledge and tools to address the entire dental arcade. There is so much more to dentistry than floating teeth. People are always amazed when I show them exactly what is going on in their horse’s mouth and all the different things we can now do to keep them healthy and reduce their pain.”
According to Lisa, her practice is one of only four completely mobile equine dental clinics in the United States. Based out of a custom-made trailer, it has a portable digital x-ray machine, a periodontal machine and stalls (stocks). Lisa says that most horses are more comfortable having dental work done in the trailer’s stall than out in the open. “I find that the horses stand quieter in the stalls, partly because there are less distractions. Also they are more secure. When we are filling cavities or trying to preserve teeth we need the tongue to be still, but the sedative tends to make them lean. In the stocks this isn’t a problem.”
Professional Equine Dental Associates serves San Diego County, Temecula and southern Orange County. A 1992 graduate of the University of California, Davis, Lisa started her training in advanced dentistry in 1998. In 2001, Lisa received her certification with the International Association of Equine Dentistry (IAED). The IAED’s mission is to advance equine dentistry throughout the world amongst veterinarians and non-veterinary dental technicians; it is a purpose that is directly aligned with Lisa’s personal and professional mission.
Lisa is still a practicing sporthorse veterinarian and acupuncturist, but she felt there was a strong need for top-quality dentistry with advanced training in the horse industry. She regularly attends continuing education seminars specific to equine dentistry and continually modifies techniques and equipment for the best interest of her patients. Lisa counts herself fortunate to have a highly qualified equine dental technician, Christine Griffin, working for her team. For the last three years Christine has trained in equine dentistry and just passed the IAED certification this May. She has years of equine experience and is dedicated to the well-being of horses.
“We make a great team,” explains Lisa. “In the state of California an equine dental technician can only perform dentistry under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Which, when you think about it, makes sense: Only a doctor can legally diagnose a person, and only a vet can legally diagnose an animal. Most equine dental technicians only use one sedative, but I have access to five different sedatives. I cater specifically to the horse I am working with—their age, size and medical history.”
The mobile unit allows for everything—from the diagnosis, x-rays, the dental procedure and any prescribing of antibiotics and pain killers—to be done on site. Professional Equine Dental Associates provides advanced, complete dentistry including correcting malocclusions, incisor alignment, filling cavities, periodontal disease
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