Tuesdays with Tony – Dentals
My usual Saturday solitude was disturbed this past weekend by Dr. Lacher. I had planned on a day of lying on the counter, watching the world through the front window, but instead I watched her do three dentals. I digress momentarily to point out that these three horses are part of our amazing Wellness Program. Click here to find out more about this money, time, and, even, life saving program here at Springhill Equine! Anyway, back to my story. I noticed some things (as a cat, it’s what I do) while watching Dr. Lacher perform these dentals that I would like to share with you.
The first thing I noticed was a nice dose of sedation for each horse. I thought this was very considerate of Dr. Lacher. I, personally, get full-on anesthesia for dentistry, and I know many humans who would like a nice dose of sedative at the dentist. Dr. Lacher explained to me that this wasn’t just for fun. Sedation allows her to place something called a full-mouth speculum. Turns out, much like me, horses simply will not stand there with their mouth wide open while you work on their teeth. A speculum holds the mouth open so Dr. Lacher can do what is probably the most important part of the dental: a full oral exam.
What’s in there???
Holy teeth, Batman! With the speculum on, a bright light shining in there, and the help of a really, really big dental mirror, I was able to see that horse teeth go WAY back. I’m pretty sure they went back at least 5, maybe even 6 feet. That may be an exaggeration, but they go way back there. It was at this point that Dr. Lacher told me some people don’t even use sedation, or a full mouth speculum, or a bright light when they work on horse teeth. I realize I am a cat, and therefore of superior intelligence, but I don’t understand how anyone thinks they can see all the way to the back of the mouth without sedation, a full mouth speculum, and a really bright light. Humans. They do concern me with their decisions sometimes!
OK, but power tools?
After doing an incredibly thorough exam of the mouth, Dr. Lacher pulled out two different power tools. “Whoa!” I said, “just what do you think you’re doing with those?”
“Floating teeth,” was her reply. By the way, in case you are wondering why we call it floating, as I was, it is an older woodworking term for filing wood down until it is smooth.
Dr. Lacher explained that power tools allow her to do a better, more thorough job, in less time with less wear and tear on the horse, and much less wear and tear on her. It allows her to the same job on the first horse she does on the 10th horse of the day. Just like any power tool, it’s not the tool, it’s how you use it. Dr. Lacher further explained that it’s why our Docs go through extensive dentistry training on a very regular basis. They keep up on the latest and greatest in information and treatments for all kinds of dentistry. Power tools get all kinds of bad press, but how many people do you know who saw wood by hand? Same concept.
By the end of the morning, I had learned a good deal more than I ever cared to know about equine dentistry. I learned doing less is way better than doing more, I learned about sharp points and excess transverse ridges, and I even got to see a tooth extraction. Luckily for Dr. Lacher, she was out of the Clinic by noon so I could return to my regularly scheduled Saturday activity. I am pleased to report that seven cars, one dog, and 27 birds were seen out the front window between noon and 3pm at which time I was needed in the cat bed in the back office. Until next week: Happy Napping!