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Straight from the horse's mouth - BHS Warwickshire hosts talk on equine dentistry and bitting

15 July 2015

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Grant CharterA close encounter with a horse's skull was in store for BHS Warwickshire members attending Grant Chanter's talk on equine dentistry and bitting at BHS HQ, Abbey Park, Kenilworth on 7 July 2015.

 Grant Chanter heads up the team of qualified Equine Dental Technicians in his dental practice, http://www.grantchanterequinedentist.co.uk, and is past chairman of the British Association of Equine Dental Technicians (BAEDT).

 The term Equine Dental Technician (EDT) is not protected at present. This means that some who have EDT after their name may have no recognised training / qualification. It is recommended, therefore, that you check if your EDT is on the BAEDT member list. This means that they would have had at least three to four years training, passed the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) dental exam, are properly insured, have their work reassessed every three years and have to undertake regular CPD. Government are being lobbied to make it illegal for untrained / unqualified people to carry out certain procedures, such as the extraction of wolf teeth and the use of power tools. This should then reassure the horse-owning public as to the standard of training of their EDT.

Grant explained why equine dentistry is important in the domesticated horse. Horses' teeth are designed to chew tough stalky grasses but we provide them with much softer grasses and feeds, so the teeth do not wear at the same rate that they would do in the wild. This causes sharp enamel points which, if left to progress, can cause soft tissue damage, thus affecting performance and health. 

He described the signs that indicate a horse is in need of dental attention – including quidding, packing food into the cheeks, poorly digested food in droppings, bitting or head carriage problems, and weight loss – and gave examples of the common problems that occur. These include developmental cheek teeth disorders, slab fractures, and overgrowth causing ulceration of the tongue and cheeks.

Two horses' skulls were passed around the audience, to illustrate some of the problems described, and showing the difference between teeth that have received dental treatment, and those left to become overgrown and sharp.

Grant went on to talk about bitting, the vulnerability of the bars of the mouth, and the importance of choosing a bit of a correct size that suits the conformation of the individual horse.

Key messages from the evening were.

  • Prevention is better than cure – get your horse's teeth checked every 6–12 months.
  • Use a BEVA qualified Equine Dental Technician who is a member of the BAEDT.

Many thanks to Grant for a very informative presentation, and to BHS Warwickshire's Gina Smith for organising the event.

For more information about common dental issues in the horse, the equine dentistry profession, and a list of members of the BAEDT in your area, see http://www.baedt.com

Audra Morgan

Communications Officer - BHS Warwickshire

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