Complex Procedures

Complex Procedures



Occasionally, patients may require a more challenging type of dental correction that isn't considered 'routine'. Like all treatments performed by the AEDP, the attending practitioner will use safe methods to achieve an outcome that provides long-term benefits.

After booking a special/complex procedure for your horse, make sure that you are prepared and have the horse ready when the time of the visit arrives. Having a flat clean area to work in will make the treatment easier. It is preferable to assess and treat a patient in a controlled environment; that means not in a communal paddock surrounded by other loose horses, for example. A horse wash, if it is available, is ideal.

A complex procedure may include:

  • Extraction of one or more permenant teeth (usually accompained by post-treatment care)
  • Extensive bite disorder correction
  • Removal of retained incisor roots
  • Extensive cleaning of interdental spaces (diastamata)
  • Other collaborative clinic procedures considered to be beyond routine

We provide treatment which respects the structure and function of teeth as part of the digestive system. We can accomplish most dental corrections by manual filing without causing excessive discomfort or trauma to the unsedated horse. Hygiene is also given careful attention; in the horse's environment this is a compromise but instruments are sanitized by immersion in antiseptic solution. The mouth is also rinsed with an antiseptic solution after procedures.


These are considered complex procedures:

  • Dealing with dental fractures
  • Removing diseased teeth
  • Effecting major bite adjustments of the incisors and molars in stages
  • Removing feed from pockets between teeth (diastemata)
  • Treating severe lacerations of lips and cheeks
  • Providing reports and referrals to veterinarians
  • Assisting veterinarians at their request with surgical procedures
  • Conducting procedures that are beyond the practical competencies of veterinarians


Complex procedures are performed in addition to routine procedures:

  • Routine and preventative maintenance of equine dentition by filing
  • Effecting minor bite adjustments of the incisors and molars in stages
  • Identifying and preventing disease of periodontal structures (structures that support the teeth)
  • Removing small teeth and wolf teeth
  • Removing deciduous incisors and molars (caps) when indicated
  • Treating minor lacerations of lips and cheeks
  • Advising clients on nutrition and feeding methods
  • Providing riders and drivers with bit and tack advice
  • Ensure horses that are ridden or driven have the 1st cheek teeth rounded to provide a bit comfort area (not a bit seat as this is an unsafe practice)



Good practice methods minimise the use of drugs and tranquillizers but when they are necessary they must be administered by a veterinary surgeon. Many 'dentists' routinely sedate many horses because of the agressive methods used. The use of drugs other than by veterinary surgeon or under direct instruction from a veterinary surgeon is not legal in Australia. Filing is a delicate matter and too much filing may cause the horse to spill feed when trying to chew, wash out its mouth in water and excrete an excessive quantity of whole fibre and oats in the manure. These factors have the potential to cause weight loss. Removing exhessive amounts of material from the molars by filing can diminish the horse's chewing ability. For example, one tooth completely smoothened on the left and the right molar arcade such as done by some to create a bit seat, means the loss of more than 15% of the total feed grinding surface of the horse.

The 'bit seat' concept is not supported by this practice as this implies the bit is seated on the teeth, where it should not be. Proponents of this treatment will file the first bottom molar teeth down to the gumline. This may lead to:

  • Exposure of pulp chambers in the teeth
  • Hypersensitivity upon bit contact
  • Reduction of the occlusal surface used for grinding the feed
  • Encouraging the horse to clench and grind the bit at will as the bit can be easily pulled between the teeth by the rider or driver. Grabbing the bit will make the horse a 'puller' which is not responsive to the bit.



  • The use of forceps to cut teeth where it is necessary to reduce the length of a severely extended molar, incisor or canine. The only device appropriate for these procedures at present is to gradually reduce the length by grinding with a fine diamond rotary water-cooled disc or bur. This process prevents overheating or fracture of teeth and is somewhat comparable to the treatment by a human dentist.
  • The cutting or grinding down of the incisors in horses with a normal molar bite is incorrect as nature itself adjusts their level provided molars are not excessively filed; exceptions are the treatment of incisor shearmouth, correction required due to absent incisors and a limited number of other conditions.
  • The use of high risk motorised tools. Read the NEDP association's Statement on the Use of Power Tools


For the full list of fees and services provided by the AEDP click here

About Us

Established in 1980, the Australian Equine Dental Practice has been treating horses and ponies for over 38 years and providing equine dentistry training since 1999.


Australian Equine Dental Practice

Head Office
13 Pavo Street, Balwyn North VIC 3104
Phone: (+61) 414 566 789