Clients & Visitors

Dental Services

Dental

Dr. James Brown uses a water-cooled power float to balance a horse's mouth and instructs students on how to perform equine dentistry.

The Equine Medical Center offers a full range of dental services including:

  • treatment of malocclusions
  • standing intra-oral extraction of diseased teeth
  • surgery to treat dental-related sinusitis

The field of equine dentistry is rapidly expanding due to an ever-increasing recognition and advancement in the understanding of dental conditions and disease in the horse. We have state-of-the-art equipment, diagnostic imaging capabilities, facilities and personnel to diagnose and treat most dental-related problems to help your horse stay healthy.

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Dental Dental Dental Dental

Our services

Oral Balance

Aside from reducing sharp points on teeth that cause oral discomfort, there are other important aspects of equine dental health. Maintenance of even, well-opposed rows of teeth (i.e. oral balance or equilibrium) is important for the long-term function and efficiency of chewing in the horse. Abnormal eruption and/or wear of teeth lead to abnormal contact of opposing upper and lower teeth, more commonly referred to as malocclusion. Horses' teeth are designed to work as a functional unit and so there should be complete and even grinding of feed between opposing teeth. When malocclusions develop, problems occur. For example, selective pressure on specific teeth can cause gaps to form between teeth (diastemata) resulting in feed material packing in the gap. Food then ferments and promotes infection of the periodontium (i.e. periodontal disease). One important goal of dentistry practiced at the Equine Medical Center is to preserve and/or restore oral balance (i.e. prevent or treat malocclusions). We utilize specialized water-cooled power equipment to treat horses with malocclusions and other dental problems.

Tooth Extraction

In some instances it is not possible to save a diseased tooth and extraction of the tooth is necessary. Extraction can be performed either via the mouth (intra-oral extraction) or repulsion through an outside approach. Whenever possible, intra-oral extraction is performed at the Equine Medical Center as we have found this technique to be the least traumatic and most horses can return to function quickly. There are cases of sinus infections that develop secondary to dental disease and therefore need to be treated at the same time as the infected tooth. Depending on the dental problem, sinus surgery can be performed with the horse standing or under general anesthesia. The Equine Medical Center provides a full range of treatment options that are tailored to suit individual horse and client needs.

In the near future, we hope to offer new treatments for periodontal disease and infundibular caries. Our goal is to ‘rescue’ diseased teeth, thus avoiding extraction and prolonging the functional life of teeth, all of which will be of great benefit to horses with these conditions.

Resources

Dental appointments

  • For an appointment or for more information, call (703) 771-6800 or email emcinfo@vt.edu.
  • View the Client Care Packet (PDF) to learn more about the facilities, services, staffing, and policies at the EMC.

From the EMC's Winner's Circle

Tana's Story

Tana

Montana King, a 28-year old gelding described by his owner as “a character,” is back at work (and play) after suffering a fractured jaw.

Montana King—otherwise affectionately known to us as Tana—is by far the smartest, most versatile horse I have ever known … and he’s my best friend. Last spring, Tana got a new field mate—a high-spirited filly, who kicked him in the mouth and fractured his jaw. His teeth were actually hanging out of his mouth! Given the seriousness of the injury, our vet recommended we take Tana to the EMC, where Dr. James Brown assessed the fracture and outlined treatment options. The type of jaw fracture Tana had is typically repaired under general anesthesia, which—given Tana’s elderly age—was a concern to us. Dr. Brown recommended standing fracture repair using sedation and local anesthesia, which is a relatively new approach to treating his condition. Remarkably, Tana had his first meal within hours and came home soon after. By the fall, he was back to trail riding and judge pleasure rides–just as good as new. Tana’s doing great and we’re all very appreciative of the gentle and expert care our special guy received from Dr. Brown and the rest of the EMC staff.

Heather Hudson
Fairfax Station, VA

Faculty clinician

Dr. James Brown has extensive experience in evaluating and treating equine dental problems.