The key to NEDP Practitioners' methods is the highly accurate and non-invasive examination of the oral cavity by means of palpative assessment. Palpative assessment means that the tips of the fingers are used to explore dental grinding surfaces, the placement and alignment of teeth, the condition of the gums and the presence of any impacted feed. It is a method that requires extensive practical training and when the skill is mastered it is far more accurate than visual methods. When our finger-tips can detect a single grain of sand, you can see how quick and precise the palpative method can be in the oral cavity. Where required, this is supplemented by other diagnostic methods provided by colleagues and veterinarians who work with us as part of our teams.
Having the respect for the individual horse as our primary focus means we carry out a precise and considerate gentle treatment that the horse generally accepts quite well. That means no sedation, no crush, no excessive opening of the mouth and no mechanical head restraint. Our practitioners are prohibited from using inaccurate non-water-cooled power tools or using forceps to cut teeth.
Long term oral health objectives are part of treatment plans and allows staged correction of dentition. Our practitioners are trained to correct major issues incrementally over time. In that way the horse does not experience a noticeable reduction of chewing efficiency due to over-filing. Over-filing of occlusal surfaces (chewing surfaces) has been a common problem with inaccurate electric dental floats (electric files) and visual-only examination. The NEDP strongly discourages the sole use of visual assessment as it does not give sufficient information to ensure the vital enamel ridges on the teeth remain intact. Likewise, the NEDP is aware of the lack of feedback due to excessive vibration when electric power floats such as the Powerfloat1 are used and therefore does not recommend them. Manual filing provides linear feedback during the filing stroke, thus ensuring only the minimal required amount of dental material is removed.
The equipment used by NEDP practitioners is of high quality and facilitates the efficient performance of comprehensive equine dental procedures. Ergonomically designed files and forceps allow easy access to all areas of the mouth minimising undo stress to the horse. Opening of the mouth is reduced, both in regard to the degree of opening and the length of time required. No power-floats or motorised files are used. Research clearly describes the risks associated with temperature increases to the teeth from abrasion.2 Incidental use of a low speed handpiece with water-cooling, operating similarly to those used in human dentistry, is performed under controlled conditions by NEDP members skilled in this practice. All equipment is designed to provide optimum hygiene and prevent cross-contamination.
Click here to view the NEDP Statement on the use of Power Tools.
By engaging a NEDP practitioner you engage a person who will:
- Perform an external assessment
- Examine soft oral tissues (lips, cheeks and tongue)
- Make a full palpative assessment of dental and periodontal health (teeth, gums and other dental-related structures)
- Collaborate with veterinarians to ensure any other health aspects are addressed and to deal with emergencies
- Assess bite and occlusal integrity (the relative level of dental arcades and efficiency of grinding surfaces)
- Correct basic dental issues (routine scaling, interdental feed removal and filing of teeth including the creation of a bit comfort area in ridden/driven horses)
- Provide bit selection advice and tack fitting assistance
- Recommend feed choices and feeding methods
- Be available to visit your horse regularly to:
- Ensure long-term maintenance
- Contribute to gradual oral health improvement
- Ensure improvement to an abnormal bite over time
- Powerfloat is a registered trade mark of Powerfloat Inc. Calgary, Alberta Canada
- Haeussler et al.: Intra-pulp temperature increase of equine cheek teeth during treatment with motorized grinding systems: influence of grinding head position and rotational speed. BMC Veterinary Research 2014 10:47)