Teamwork with Veterinarians

Peter Borgdorff
Photos by: 
Peter Borgdorff

Care for the Patient

NEDP members are committed to achieve the best outcome for the horse when providing dental treatment. Collaboration with veterinarians is a vital part of this process and to that aim, we have established excellent relationships with many specialist and general veterinarians. Whereas the equine dental practitioner works to achieve the dental and related oral care, veterinarians provide many services alongside us to achieve the best overall health. I am, together with other members of the National Equine Dental Practitioners Inc (NEDP), very grateful for the support of dozens of veterinarians. Many vets are focussed on collaborating with us to achieve better outcomes for every horse and every owner.  All horses should be entitled to such high level of care.

The Right to Practice

The activity of equine dentistry has been in the domain of non-veterinary EDP's for a long time, meaning that 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 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 horses. Horse owners have always had the choice as to who to engage for this work.

Issues of Concern

Newly graduated 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 evidence of overconfidence in their skills or evidence of being out of their depth.  Similar incidents are being reported involving more senior veterinarians who proclaim themselves to be masters of the art and science of equine dentistry. Comments by veterinarians have admitted that there is very little or no practical university education regarding equine dentistry. And now the fast and furious equine dentistry courses threaten considerate and informed treatment of your precious animals with one of the objectives being "How to increase your practice profits through dentistry" (Gary Wilson 2015) Some of the work conducted, apparently as a consequence of participation in veterinary short courses, is questioned by us. That's not even mentioning the virtual absence of key skills that for which equine dental practitioners are specifically trained.


Edited for publication by NEDP.