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 manual examination where the tips of the fingers are used to examine:
- Grinding surfaces
- Placement and alignment of teeth
- Condition of the structures surrounding the teeth
- Presence of any impacted feed.
The palpative examination method combined with associated assessment and treatment planning is taught to equine dental trainees over two weeks during practical equine dental training. This skill acquisition takes place before any hands-on practical treatment training is undertaken. When the skill of palpation is mastered it is far more accurate than visual methods. As our fingertips are able to detect a single grain of sand, it is obvious how efficient and precise the palpative method in the oral cavity is.
Where required, this thorough examination method can be supplemented by visual and other diagnostic methods. In certain cases, endoscopy, X-ray and other diagnostics are provided by veterinarians who work with NEDP members. The NEDP strongly discourages the use of visual assessment without manual examination as it does not give sufficient information to ensure the vital enamel ridges on the teeth remain intact.
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.
Maintaining Dental Integrity
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 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. Regular palpation during treatment ensures the right amount of dental material is removed in the right areas.
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)