Equine Dental PracticeTM
© Peter Borgdorff 1984-2017
Click this button if you cannot see the navigation bar on the left. Last update: 30 May 2017.
visitors: The use of this
site is conditional on acceptance of terms in the disclaimer and privacy statement
and copyright information. If
you consider this a crime against our environment, take action now. by Peter Borgdorff - Equine Dentist Since
2006 I have assisted Agrifoods as a member of National Reference Group
on behalf of the National
Equine Dental Practitioners Inc (a registered association of equine dentists whose members include veterinarians) with
the preparation of a new, nationally accredited Diploma of Equine
Dentistry. If you are a horse owner or veterinarian here are
facts about the proposed Diploma of Equine
Dentistry. Many properly informed veterinarians strongly support the work of our members, work with us regularly and do not engage in anti-competitive behaviour. However, the
actions of a few members within the AVA may seriously impact the horse and
the horse-owning community. Read more here: Anti-competitive
effect on equine dentists and cost impact on consumers
If you consider this a crime against our environment, take action now.
by Peter Borgdorff - Equine Dentist
Since 2006 I have assisted Agrifoods as a member of National Reference Group on behalf of the National Equine Dental Practitioners Inc (a registered association of equine dentists whose members include veterinarians) with the preparation of a new, nationally accredited Diploma of Equine Dentistry. If you are a horse owner or veterinarian here are some facts about the proposed Diploma of Equine Dentistry. Many properly informed veterinarians strongly support the work of our members, work with us regularly and do not engage in anti-competitive behaviour. However, the actions of a few members within the AVA may seriously impact the horse and the horse-owning community. Read more here: Anti-competitive effect on equine dentists and cost impact on consumers
In view of items in the news, specifically the Weekly Times, we would like to clarify our activities of equine dentists. With overwhelming public support, non veterinary equine dentists in Australia have in the past 100 years or more been conducting lawful horse dentistry procedures such as these:
In situations where a horse requires sedation or related care to enable more significant procedures to be professionally and safely conducted by an equine dental practitioner (EDP), we engage veterinarians on behalf of horse owners. All cases which require sedation for larger procedures are done with the patient receiving supplementary veterinary care where necessary. Horse welfare is safeguarded in a number of ways:
our practice only
1 in 25 horses requires sedation for
We contact veterinarians on behalf of our clients to provide such
sedation. Some equine dental practitioners (EDP's) use
which may require sedation more frequently. A veterinarian is
allowed to refuse to
facilitate sedation as horse owners and equine dentists are by law only
able to engage veterinarians for such tasks. Equine
practitioners are not seeking to practice veterinary medicine. Their
expertise is confined to oral procedures. Better animal welfare
outcomes will be achieved by the veterinary profession working together
with EDPs to achieve this outcome.
The Right to Practice
The activity of equine dentistry has been in the domain of non-veterinary EDP's for a long time, meaning we have the right to practice in that capacity. Precedents in law in the USA have also shown that Veterinary Boards and their regulations cannot remove this right. That situation is similar under Australian Law.
In the past educational organisations and veterinary associations have failed to properly address the needs of the horse. This is confirmed by this frank comment made to veterinarians by a respected veterinary educator:
Equine dentistry is a very important but until recently rather neglected area of equine practice, with many horses suffering from undiagnosed, painful dental disorders. (Source: Prof Paddy M. Dixon MVB, Easter Bush, Scotland, 2004)
In contrast, equine dentists have for many years now assumed the responsibility for dental and dental-related welfare of the horse.
Competence in Equine Dentistry
Australia adopted a nationally accredited
IV in Equine Dentistry. This constitutes basic equine
dentistry competencies and does
not cover most of the procedures above.
This means that the
skills being practiced by most equine dentists around the world are
still not able to be achieved with nationally
Australia. The educational competencies for a Diploma in
Dentistry were drafted by AgriFoodSkills in close consultation with the
National Reference Group which includes equine dentists from four
groups (NEDP, AAED, EDAA, WWED) and Australian
(AVA) representatives. Yet those same AVA
the Diploma they have helped draft.
Diploma competencies are also opposed by
unaware of the scope of care already provided by equine dentists in
Australia. The reason for this appears to be a campaign of
misinformation by the AVA and active lobbying by a small number of
equine dental veterinarians who have developed themselves as
peer-proclaimed experts and who gain significant revenue from their
New graduate veterinarians are being pushed by their new employers into performing procedures for which we argue they are not adequately trained. A number of past cases display overconfidence in their skills or evidence of being out of their depth. Similar incidents are being reported with more senior veterinarians who proclaim themselves to be masters of the art and science of equine dentistry.
The Frawley report said this:
There is a large and growing number of personnel with the qualifications, training and/or experience in animal health related fields. As a general rule, rural veterinarians regard such personnel as competitors when this need not be the case. (Source: Peter T. Frawley, Review of Rural Veterinary Services 2003.)
Equine dentists do not, nor do they seek, the ability to conduct any procedures other than those listed at the top of this page and a limited number of other procedures including pulp capping. The Centre for Veterinary Education (CVE) on their web site, and Oliver Liyou in E-mails have tried to gather support for opposition to the Diploma by saying equine dentists were seeking to do sinus surgery and have the use of anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and sedatives. Nothing like that is contained in the Diploma competencies and only sedatives for routine work was ever discussed to be included!
This is an excerpt of North American university responses to an equine dentistry survey. Comments from the author and advice from veterinarians to us confirm a similar situation in Australia
(Source: Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian, Michale Q. Lowder, University of Athens Georgia USA May 1997)
that information and the quoted comment by
veterinarian Paddy M. Dixon, the current AVA
President Barry Smyth
serious doubt on the Australian Veterinary Association's credibility by
Equine dentistry has always been an integral part of veterinary medicine and surgery. It requires specialised knowledge to diagnose and treat dental problems. (Source: www.vetclick.com)
recognition of the acknowledged inadequacies of
there are now some private workshops in equine dentistry.
Sadly, these AVA supported courses attempt to cover a vast number of
subjects at 'workshops' in as little as 39 hours. Some quotes
from course proponents:
contend that horse owners should reject this level
patently inadequate. University education is founded on
theory-based science subjects and to learn the
practical techniques and processes that are required for even a basic
level requires a very substantial amount of time and
effort. Certificate and proposed Diploma training
are estimated to require around 905-995 and 694
hours respectively. (Source: AgriFoodSkills 14 July 2011 Indicative
Hours - Curriculum Mapping Equine Dentistry National Training Standards)
In-depth courses to Diploma level have been provided over quite a few years by the Australian Equine Dental Practice with the purpose of enabling successful trainees to practice as certified equine dental practitioners in the field of equine dentistry. These courses are typically 23 weeks in duration for non veterinarians. Particular focus is on the provision of skills that take over where veterinary dental education is inadequate, yet work in collaboration with veterinarians in complex cases to provide the best possible holistic care for our patients. This means that AEDP Certified Equine Dentists who carry out the procedures at the top of this page, broadly carry out what is in the Diploma competencies proposed by stakeholders through AgriFoodSkills. This Diploma qualification provides for a comprehensive equine dentistry related theory subject base in conjunction with extensive practical competencies.
In 2008, the AVA Board issued the following policy statement:
All dental procedures on horses and related species should be performed only by registered veterinarians......
conduct by the Australian Veterinary
to incitement to anti-competitive conduct. Although we may
understanding for an association of veterinarians (the AVA is a 'trade
all) trying to encourage its members to compete in the marketplace, we
such information grossly misleading and possibly unlawful.
owners in Australia should have the right to choose.
The AVA President also expressed an anti-competitive stance to the Weekly Times recently. It reports:
"AVA president Barry Smyth said horse dentists should be restricted to manually filing horses' teeth for the sake of animal welfare. Anything more complicated than that should be left to the veterinarian..... "
Veterinary ConductSome of the work conducted by veterinarians apparently as a consequence of participating in veterinary short courses is questioned by us. We cannot ask State animal welfare legislation to be used to investigate any incidents because veterinarians are dealt with by their own state Veterinary Boards. In Vet Board hearings the outcome hinges on expert colleagues who either testify for or against the accused. Rather than appeal which may result in even higher penalties being applied as well as the huge legal costs by both sides, veterinarians often elect to settle for a minor sanctions. We consider this a very unsatisfactory system as a recent case in NSW has shown.
A veterinarian who was one of the vets involved in the treatment of a horse which subsequently died, testified against a colleague who had facilitated sedation for a procedure on that same horse months earlier, causing the original sedating vet and not the testifying vet to be found guilty on -what we consider- a completely misinterpreted meaning of the NSW Veterinary Regulation.
In spite of that, I, together with other members of the National Equine Dental Practitioners Inc (NEDP), are very grateful for the support of dozens of veterinarians. These vets are focussed on collaborating with us to achieve positive outcomes for every horse. Every horse should be entitled to such high level of care.
Speak Out About Your Right to Choose for Your Horses and Their Welfare.
We predict that the costs of caring for your horses will increase and the level of care will go down in most cases, if training at Diploma level is not formalised by 2012, and even more anti-competive veterinary regulations are pushed through. Most members of the professional associations NEDP, EDAA, AAED and WWED, will be prevented from comprehensively practicing equine dentistry. Look at the effect we think anti-competitive practices will have after 2012: Anti-competitive effect on equine dentists and cost impact on consumers - PDF 235kB
How to make yourself heard? Write to your state primary industries minister and local members. To give you some inspiration, we have an a letter which a horse owner in WA sent to her state minister as well as to the federal minister and others. You may copy that letter. Find your local member here. The E-mail addresses of state and federal ministers are:
Into Position of Pulp Chamber (no.6) in the Second Premolars.
The filing of molar teeth needs to be rendered with care in order to preserve the horse's ability to chew. These grinding surfaces, also known as tables, are shown here and you can enlarge them by clicking on them:
It is the policy of affiliates of the Australian Equine Dental Practice not to break the law by supplying or administering 'supply restricted' drugs to your horse. Rarely does a horse need to be sedated due to experienced handling and limited treatment duration. However, if this is necessary an equine veterinary surgeon can be arranged on your behalf. If you want to report unlawful veterinary drug supply or use in Australia click here: firstname.lastname@example.org@email@example.com
The reduction of tooth length with cutting forceps may cause deep tooth or bone fractures. We do not use these forceps, nor do we use dremel type grinders to grind down the first molar teeth. In order to provide bit comfort, the first molars are corrected by filing manually, thus preventing the need for tranquillisers except on infrequent occasions. More information on the Methods page.
The American Journal of the Veterinary Medical Association reported about a study by Drs Traub-Dargatz, Kopral et al. about the US national incidence of and operation risk factors for colic among horses from 1998-1999. It says:"The annual national incidence of colic in the US horse population was estimated to be 4.2 colic events/100 horses per year. Case fatality rate was 11% and 1.4% of colic events resulted in surgery." That colic is suffered by so many horses is a cause for deep concern when one considers the pain and trauma to both horses and owners. The report further states that it is costing the US an amount of AU$205.000.000 per year. Especially in older horses correct dental maintenance and dietary planning can vastly reduce the incidence of colic.
A significant number of calls to this practice are made by people who suspect that their horse's inability to masticate feed properly may have been the cause of a past occurrrence of colic. It is especially important to be aware that a horse with dental problems is unable to grind grass or hay into short fibres and will often swallow long fibred tight packets of feed which may cause bowel obstruction. There is also some concern that horses with decomposing feed lodged in abnormal cravasses between teeth may ingest large bacterial loads which may affect proper digestion and increase the likelihood of colic.
For those of you who scratch their head trying to find good horse information on the Internet, here are some hints. As voluntary editor for the Open Directory Project, the world's largest human edited directory, I recommend it to view information by category. You can also search at the top of each page. Here are some interesting categories from DMOZ Open Directory:
Dr Geoff Tucker has specialized in equine dentistry for a few years now and, like many of us, he has developed his own techniques. He has said to me many times that he is not in favour of aggressive treatment methods and that we need to respect natural (dental) structures. I quote this from his web site http://www.theequinepractice.com/ :
there are more than 1.2 million
horses used for racing, equestrian sports, and recreation and there is
a large breeding industry. The horse industry is worth more than $15
billion a year.
If you cannot see navigation buttons on the left, click here:
© Copyright Peter