New Legislation in NSW (the Veterinary Practice Regulation 2006) and What It Means to the Horse Owner.
by Gary Wilson
BVSc MVSc MACVSc CMAVA Cert Teach
School of Veterinary Science
University of Queensland
Veterinary Practice Regulation 2006 (NSW), which commenced on 1
September 2006, provides that certain dental procedures on horses are
restricted acts of veterinary science. These include any dental
procedure that involves:
- making an incision through the skin or oral mucosa
- extracting a tooth by repulsion
- entry below the gum line
- any other activity to maintain or restore correct dental function.
What does this mean to the horse owner?
of all, the definition of an equine dentist is: anyone can call
him/herself an equine dentist. You do not need any qualifications or
training to call yourself an equine dentist.
Under the new
legislation in NSW, equine dentists are now only allowed to "float"
horse's teeth and remove loose caps (remnants of the baby teeth).
Floating is rasping or filing of points on the teeth to prevent them
from cutting the cheek or tongue.
However, equine dental care is
much more than just floating. It is about the complete dental and oral
evaluation and treatment. This includes manually and visually
equilibrating the molar and the incisor arcades, the close examination
with a dental mirror of the space between the teeth (interdental), the
gingival health, checking for the presence of periodontal disease and
decay problems that are both painful to the horse and lead to tooth
Periodontics is the branch of dentistry that cares for
the health of the tissues and ligaments that surround and support the
tooth. Regular floating of your horse's teeth, although necessary, no
longer constitutes comprehensive dental care as that technique does not
address this area. Periodontal disease is a common condition in the
horse and is painful and leads to other problems due to altered chewing
actions. Eventually teeth will become loose and may fall out. Before
then, though, the disease will affect other body organs such as the
liver and kidneys. Treatment is complex but can be undertaken by a
veterinarian trained in equine dentistry. Treatment will require heavy
sedation or, in some cases, general anaesthesia.
Equine dentists are still not legally allowed to administer anaesthetics or sedatives. Only veterinarians can legally administer such drugs
. (Please see "Is Sedation Necessary?
For a more detailed discussion re the new legislation applying to dentistry in horses, visit The Lay of the Land