Equine Dentist or Vet to Float Teeth

What does floating teeth mean? Simply put, floating teeth can be compared to trimming a horse’s hooves. Both require filing, smoothing and evening out rough areas. Since equine teeth never stop growing and wear unevenly; it is advantageous to file down the sharp points and even out teeth so a horse can chew his food properly. This promotes good digestion and allows the horse to better utilize nutrients in its feed. The procedure takes approximately 20 minutes.

In the past, primarily older horses had their teeth floated to improve health and extend their lives. For the past 15 years growing attention has been focused on equine dental care. Now once a year, it is suggested horses of all ages have an oral examination and teeth “floated” to promote better health. Who is to perform this procedure? In the past either an equine dentist specializing in floating teeth or a vet did the job.

Legal battles have been fought in states across the nation designed to prevent equine dentists who are not vets from floating teeth. In Texas during 2008, home to big cattle ranchers, the Texas Vet Board brought felony charges for practicing teeth floating without a veterinary license against Carl Mitz, a certified Equine Dentist for 24 years. Also in 2008, Oklahoma made it a felony to practice floating a horse’s teeth unless you are a vet. In 2009, Bobby Griswold professional rodeo star and equine dentist was charged and prosecuted for preforming dental work on a horse in Oklahoma. In 2009, Chris Brown, equine dentist for over 30 years, won a New York State appellate court decision which granted lay equine dentists the right to practice their trade in the state. In 2010, the Missouri Veterinary Medical Board brought a complaint against Brooke Gray, a practicing and fully competent equine dentist, for floating teeth without benefit of a veterinary degree or state license. Gray lost the case and was prohibited from floating teeth.

If traditional equine dentists are not allowed to practice their trade, horse owners have no option other than to hire a vet to perform this simple procedure essential for equine tooth maintenance. What do you think? Should floating teeth be an area for state regulation and licensing or should horse owners be left to decide who they want to hire to perform this procedure?

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