I got my issue of Holistic Horse today and was strongly disappointed by the picture on the cover. ... Being a horse dentist myself, I know that if you take hold of a horse’s tongue like that, [you] could damage the delicate bones in the back of the tongue. If you damage them, the horse could have a balance problem and all the dental work in the world would not help. The horse would move with its head tilted to one side. I would never EVER hold a horse’s tongue for fear of damaging the balance of the horse. Please use better judgment on picking pictures for your magazine!
-- David E. DeYoung
[Mr. DeYoung is correct regarding the potential damage to the small bones. “ The Equine Tongue Tells All ” (HH Issue 58, Dec08/Jan09 pp4-5) by Peggy Fleming, DVM, mirrors this alert. We were remiss in not including a cautionary note with our cover information.]
(phone message) Is Steve Sampson [one of the sources in “ Sedation or No? The Floating Question ”] a veterinarian? If he is not a vet, he should not be dispensing Dormosedan...
-- Tom Dorian
Steve Sampson response:
I was asked what type of sedation I prefer on the rare occasion when I need sedation. My first choice is Dermosedan. On the rare occasion that I need sedation, a vet or a stable groom usually administers the medication; if the horse is too wild for the vet to administer the sedation, he will often ask me to do the injection. It is usually an extreme case that requires me to use sedation and the horse is often out of control. I tried to stress sedation-free dentistry. The title Master Equine Dentist is from the first professional organization for equine dentists, World Wide Equine Dental Association. I was a charter member and the examination was extremely difficult. The organizations have evolved and I am no longer active. They are now primarily interested in sedation dentistry with power tools, since there are very few horsemen left who can actually work without sedation.
[Mr. Sampson’s e-mail was incorrect on p6 of our Feb/Mar issue. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org ]
My name is Geoff Tucker, DVM. I have been an equine veterinarian since 1984 and have floated horse teeth since 1983. Since 1998 I have limited my practice to equine dentistry. I have floated over 47,000 horses since 1983 and I remain a horsemanship based equine dentist. I have the credentials and the money to purchase the “modern” equine dentistry equipment and perform “modern” equine dentistry but I choose not to. The main reason is because I do not believe they do a better job. More importantly, I do not think it is in the best interest of the horse.
Your February issue of Holistic Horse discusses whether to sedate or not to sedate horses for equine dentistry. The real question you are asking is whether sedation makes equine dentistry easier for the practitioner and/or the horse.
The primary use of medication in equine dentistry is for the removal of pain allowing a horse to become more cooperative when pain is the over-riding factor in the horse’s behavior. In my practice, I medicate only when one of two things occur: 1) the horse requests it due to his sensitivity to pain and 2) when through a procedure such as an extraction, I anticipate that there will be pain.
The statistics over the last 10 years in my practice show that I need to medicate 1 in every 10 horses I do with about half of those for procedures such as tooth extraction. The number of horses I do in a year on average is about 3500 so about 350 are medicated.
If your holistic definition is intended to reflect the total well being of the horse, then the use of drugs on every horse, the over medicating of a horse requiring yohimbine reversal, the application of a metal speculum even for a short period, and the support of the sedated head on a jack stand or ceiling attachments must be against every ounce of horsemanship and holistic measurement known. Furthermore, many of the theories supported by “modern” equine dentists are actually unproven in science, not in the best interest of the horse, and have injured and even killed horses. Specifically, neck injuries from head suspension, jaw injuries from speculum use, and death from incisor reduction.
I am firmly against allowing non-veterinarians the access to and use of drugs controlled by law such as the ones mentioned in your article.
My equine dentistry web site is http://www.equinedentistrywithoutdrama.com/ and my Facebook business page is facebook.com/EquineDentistryWithoutDrama
--Geoff Tucker, DVM, Equine Dentistry Without Drama™
[We extend apologies to Dr. Tucker over his concern that the title of our February/March issue inadvertently trampled on The Equine Practice Inc. trademarked hub service, Equine Dentistry Without Drama(TM).]
Mr. Sampson should be able to perform the task of standing sedation at the owner’s request. The owner has attained that sedation from their Veterinary professional. Upon selling that sedation the Veterinarian acknowledged that the horse owner or someone in his employ would administer that sedation.
In fact there is now a Dermosedan Gel that was designed so that horse owners could use sedation when necessary, by placing the gel under a horse’s tongue (sub lingual). This newer Dermosedan Gel delivery system sidesteps the whole injection issue. ( http://www.facebook.com/l/64c4b/www.dormosedangel.com/dormosedangelvideovet.html )
There is no inherent danger in power equipment or inherent safety in-hand floating. As horse owners we want the best for our horses. The most important factor in choosing a practitioner is the skill and the knowledge base of the person who will float our horse.
Question those who sell fear rather than knowledge. Sedation is a less important yardstick than Proper Equine Dentistry. Just because someone can dance with your horse in his stall doesn’t mean that their finished product is the quality that your horse deserves.
In my 25+ years floating horse’s teeth many things have changed but a well- balanced mouth has been the one constant. My certification predates Mr. Sampson; I was certified by the IAEDT almost 20 years ago and served as an examiner for that certification process for a number of years. Certification only means that on that one day a person passed the standards. The most important test is the work they will perform on your horse.
Upon completion of your horse’s floating anything less than a well balanced mouth is a disservice to the horse.
I believe that there are more floaters in the industry that are hand floating with access to powered procedures when needed, than Mr. Sampson acknowledges. Perhaps an eclectic blend of traditional hand tools and power instrumentation is the road to gentle dentistry.
-- John R. Brochu, North American Equine Performance Services, Fayetteville, Arkansas
I feel I must comment on the dentistry article by Marsha Wyatt and the follow-up comments. I have been a professional horsewoman for over 35 years, and have seen the equine dentistry protocol change from the hand-tool float to the power equipment and sedation dentistry. As a trainer and breeder, I have had many, many horses’ teeth done by various professionals.
In my experience certification is not the determining factor in the skill a practitioner displays, but knowledge and experience and horse sense are. I feel that the most important skills are true horsemanship and anatomical knowledge.
More importantly, I was dismayed that the issue of heat in the tooth when power tools are used was not addressed. I realize that the focus of the article was sedation, but the issue of heat in the teeth created by power dentistry is closely tied to sedation.
A sedated horse allows the use of power tools, which can cause irreversible damage to the roots of the teeth if not judiciously used. Even very short periods of time can result in serious damage. With a sedated horse, time becomes less of an issue in completing the task of dentistry, but the longer a power tool remains in contact with a tooth the more likely it is that there will be heat-induced damage.
I feel that it is imperative that owners be aware of the potential for heat-induced damage associated with the use of power tools in equine dentistry.
-- Karen Maas, www.MiddleWayEquine.com
Article author Marsha Wyatt responds:
In any health protocol (for people or animals) there are as many opinions regarding the optimum approach as there are training methodologies. Each practioner has his or her slant on what is appropriate and suitable. In the article " Sedation or No ," I tried to represent a small cross section of equine dentists while staying within the print boundaries of a few words about an indepth subject. I am pleased that the article elicited such eloquent responses! Clearly, our equine dentists are being carefully scrutinized both by their clients and their peers. What progress we have made!