How we decide what procedures need to be done and what will it cost?
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The first question I will ask you is, "What work and disciplines you would like your horse and you to do together."  I will need to know if your horse is having any problems with working or eating?  I would also like to look at any dental charts you may have for your horse. 

Pic: Canine tooth covered with tartar, this was the result of previous poor dental care.

Before I open your horses mouth I will carry out an external examination of your horse and the overall body condition.  This will include pulse, respiration and level of hydration.  I will check the symmetry of the head, jaw and facial muscle development for any problems and pain.  All this is done to establish a bond with your horse and to ensure that I am not going to hurt them when I start the examination of their teeth.  It also gives me a very good idea of what they are going to behave like when we start working together. 

This is the canine tooth after the tartar had been removed, the length of the canine has been reduced and the top rounded off so that it is smooth and no longer interferes with the position of the tongue which now lays flat in the mouth.  The damage you can see around the base of the tooth is as a result of infection to the gum caused by the tartar.  After completing all the procedures needed this  horse became much easier to work with and to handle.   

Internal Investigation

Before fitting a full mouth speculum for the internal examination I will check the shape and condition of the incisors.  If these are badly damaged or misalligned it may be necessary to balance and level these teeth before I can check the rest of the mouth and carry out any corrective procedures required.  

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This horse has a parrot mouth and as such there is no occlusion between the incisors which is why the front teeth have grown so distorted.   This had to be corrected before we could fit the speculum and work on the molars so our first session with the horse was just to correct this misallignment, after 45 minutes we had a much better looking set of teeth.  Other problems this poor lad had included large hooks on the upper 6 and lower 11 molars and very bad transvers ridging which was why he was badly underweight and it also affected his riding.    

Full Mouth Speculum

The speculum allows me to safely open the horses mouth and carry out a full internal inspection of the teeth and their condition.  It is impossible to safely and competently carry out an inspection or any corrective procedures without using a speculum, and people who do so should be avoided.  However, it is possible to float the buchal area of the first 3 cheek teeth without a speculum and some practitioners will do this when they are working with a young or nervous horse as part of its training and development. 

Dental Charts and Charges

Once all the checks are complete, we will discuss what procedures need to be carried out, how long it will take and how much it is going to cost.  My fees start at £54.00 and most procedures can be completed in under an hour, however if the horse has been rescued from neglect or the level of previous dentistry has been poor then it may cost more to correct the problems but we will discuss that before I start any corrective procedures and we may have to get your vet to come and sedate your horse.  On completion of the work you will receive a copy of the dental chart for your records.  

As you can see from these two photos, there may be occassions that the dental work takes a bit longer or additional visits may be required.  The work on this poor horse from Arizona took several visits to complete.

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