Digestion starts in the mouth…..for humans and for horses! But our human “design” is a little different and our dinners are too! Horses teeth, bone structure, musculature, and salivary glands all function at their best when the food they are eating is on the ground.
The first step is getting their food into their mouth. When a horse’s head is down, their mandible and maxilla slide to bring their incisors and molars into optimal alignment; the perfect arrangement for both “cutting” the forage they have selected and for chewing it into the tiny particles necessary for great digestion. If you have had a dental by AED, you know that after the procedure, Richard always drops your horse’s head down and checks their incisor alignment….perfectly aligned front teeth is what he’s looking for! Those incisors are a sign that your horse’s bone structure and tooth structures are lining up in the best possible way for them to eat!
Once in their mouth, that food is rapidly mixed with the more than 3 gallons of saliva the average horse produces in a day. Horses are a bit different here; they only produce saliva while they are actually chewing so having their head down is a huge benefit as it moves that saliva forward into the food bolus with each “chomp” rather than simply down their throat. And because great chewing for horses is all about repeated grinding, eating with their head down is a benefit as sets them up to move that food bolus more slowly toward their esophagus. They have to rely on their tongue, mastication muscles, and hard palate to push that food uphill (anatomically correct chewing!) ….if their head is upright while chewing, the process of getting food from the front to the back of the mouth is faster and their food is ground less thoroughly!
So…head down eating improves a horse’s ability to get their food in their mouth, increases the amount of saliva mixed into the food bolus, keeps the food in their mouth longer for better grinding AND can help your horse have fewer disruptions of their chewing surfaces….Or as you know them, “Hooks and Ramps”!!! Remember how I told you that your horse’s mandible and maxilla align when their head is down….well so do their teeth! Equine “hooks and ramps” occur most often when the alignment of of the occlusal surfaces is altered….simply put, when their teeth don’t line up as designed, they don’t wear evenly! And, once those uneven tooth surfaces develop, they alter the horse’s natural chewing pattern until they are removed….they keep getting bigger because they are no longer lined up with another tooth (or portion of a tooth) to wear the surface. While there are some other possible physical causes (structural abnormalities, broken teeth, etc) this is one place where you as an owner can have an impact on maintaining not only great teeth but improving the start of digestion for your horse with one simple step…….feed from the ground all the time and every time!
Do you know why we recommend equine dentals twice a year? Do you know how much your horse’s teeth erupt annually? Did you know that horses get gingivitis just like humans do? Did you know that there are feeding methods used by many that actually damage the enamel on your horse’s teeth? Do you know what steps occur in our routine dental visit, what your horse will experience, and what Richard looks for? Lots of our clients….and lots of our patients…..need a few minutes to ask questions! We love to teach and we are perfectly ok with those phone calls we get to simply “ask”! Email, text, or give us a call…..like they say, there are no stupid questions!!!
Equine dentistry is far, far more than a “float”. In fact, with horses living decades longer than in the past, the care and preservation of their tooth surfaces through advanced dental techniques is of key importance in protecting their health. Here are a few components that are “absolutes” in helping to assure the dental care they are receiving is the safest and most complete…..
Your equine dental practitioner should ALWAYS, ALWAYS uses a light source!!! Dental tools are sharp, horse’s mouth are deep and dark…..lighting is an absolute for safe dental care.
Your equine dental practitioner should use a speculum. A speculum holds a horses teeth apart and allows for visibility and safe, accurate movement of dental tools. Without a speculum in place, the furthest molars are rarely opened far enough for adequate access to the posterior tooth surfaces.
Your equine dental practitioner should address and treat your horses incisors (front teeth) as well as their molars (back teeth) at every visit. A horse’s “bite” can be disrupted by uneven surfaces on ALL teeth and simply reducing the sharp points of the molars is not sufficient. Elongated and uneven incisors can directly affect their alignment and grind surfaces.
*ALL TEETH, LIGHTED, FULLY VISIBLE, AND EXAMINED SAFELY AT EVERY VISIT*
Please join Richard and Terri on May 29th for the announcement of the recipient of Morgan’s memorial scholarship for 2022. The memorial is included in Ladybug Farm Sanctuary’s Wine and Cheese fundraiser event, an organization that Morgan supported personally. Along with her husband and any family who can attend, we are thrilled to support a student of animal studies on Morgan’s behalf.
If you are interested in attending and learning about Ladybug Farm Sanctuary, the event will be held on their property at 12536 Tyler Run Ave, Odessa FL. For any of you aspiring chefs, the Sanctuary is holding a charcuterie board contest during the event with a $250 prize! Hope to see many AED clients there!
When Morgan died last year, lots of her friends and colleagues wanted a way to memorialize her. The staff at Ladybug Farm helped to do just that; in cooperation with her husband and family a scholarship fund was created for students of animal sciences. Many donations have been received and the deadline to apply for the funding is today, May 10th. If you are a student and interested, please utilize the the sanctuary’s link and complete the application. We are certain that Morgan would be thrilled to know we are developing more individuals to care for animals in her honor! The following link is to the scholarship page in honor of Morgan. https://ladybugfarmsanctuary.com/dr-morgan-fund-1
Most of our clients know that Richard is multi-talented, but they may not know that he builds ALL of our dental trailers himself. When first in private practice, Richard did function the “old way” in barns, in stalls, and with free standing head stands. What he determined though, through his experience, was that a dental practitioner’s ability to complete an excellent oral exam, perform a full three point balance of your horse’s mouth, and maintain the utmost safety standards was hindered by the environment that seemed the norm for historical practices. His creation of a trailer designed and built specifically for equine dentistry was a new concept in his field and Rich has gone on to build numerous trailers in succession…..each benefiting from thousands of your horses’ dental visits to help him determine what improvements were desirable.
So…the new dental trailer went on the road this Monday and we are getting used to the new environment! So far, the lucky first clients have watched us try to remember what drawers we put supplies in and find our way around. The comments have all been great and we are hoping the changes in this trailer are ones you will find a benefit to the care of your horses! What is different you ask?
The trailer is about 5 feet shorter in total length with a shorter ramp
The trailer is aluminum so lighter (with our gas costs more than doubled, we hope this helps us keep trip charges reasonable for you)
The trailer has a fan directly in the horse environment for their comfort
The new head lift allows for more length and height of its extension (easier on our dentist and on your horse!)
The trailer is equipped with a digital scale (accurate weights are certainly best veterinary practice!)
The trailer has a retractable awning over the exit ramp to help us keep the interior cool and dry in our Florida weather!
The trailer has less protrusions into our work area and less joined segments to improve our ability to keep it clean.
The trailer interior was planned around work flow….we can be more efficient
We are still that eye catching yellow and blue…..just reversed for a change of scenery!
Can’t wait for your horses to try it out! Great (not dental) work Richard Grist CEqD!
Morgan loved animals, all animals. It showed in her personal life and it showed in her chosen profession. Many of Morgan’s friends, and many of our clients, have asked how we can memorialize and remember her. It seems that her passion for animals and that tribute should be connected…..and Lady Bug Farm Sanctuary has made that a reality. Morgan worked with AED at Lady Bug Farm and she was a treasured part of their team. What a wonderful way to remember her….helping animals, helping animal owners, and helping more people become educated to care for animals!
Three years ago, Advanced Equine Dentistry hired a new veterinarian. She moved to Florida to take this job and told us it was exactly what she wanted. It turned out, she was exactly what we wanted too. Morgan adored our clients, she had a great working relationship with Rich, and she became part of our own family. Sadly, Morgan was diagnosed with cancer after her first year here and subsequently went into treatment. She underwent her grueling surgeries and regimen with grace telling us over and over that she wanted to keep her job and continue to be part of AED. Many of you have asked about her, so it is with great sadness that Rich and Terri wanted to let our clients know that Morgan died this week. At the end, she was fortunately surrounded by her family, her husband, her friends….and even her goats. We have no doubt that heaven has hired a new veterinarian…..and we will so be missing ours.