Choosing an Equine Dentistry Provider

As horses age, it is important to maintain an even bite plane in order to ensure a level grinding surface into their later years. Otherwise, the surfaces may be worn excessively and/or unevenly, and alignment may be impossible, possibly leading to gum disease in older horses.

Among many benefits, proper equine dental care can prevent premature tooth loss, reduce impaction and colic, allow easier tooth eruption, and prevent pain during bit use and feeding. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a dental care program that is appropriate for your horse.

It is important to understand the qualifications of the individuals who are providing dental services to your equines.

The following information may be able to assist you in understanding the difference between the care provided by a professional, licensed veterinarian and an unlicensed provider.

  Licensed Veterinarian Unlicensed Provider
Education Requirements

High school graduate

College graduate (4 years)

Veterinary school graduate (4 years)

Licensure Requirements Take and pass North American Veterinary Licensing Examination and Oregon Licensing Examination None
Continuing Education Requirements 30 hours of CE every two years None
Regulated By Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board None
Professional Liability Insurance Veterinarians carry liability coverage for your protection, your animal's protection and your veterinarian's protection. None
Sedation Veterinarians are licensed to administer both prescription and controlled drugs to animals before performing dentistry - a necessity in most cases. It is illegal for EDTs to administer either prescription or controlled drugs to another person's animal.
Prescription Drugs Veterinarians are licensed to prescribe and administer prescription drugs, such as antibiotics, to an animal. These drugs are often critical to an animal's recovery. It is illegal for EDTs to administer or prescribe prescription drugs, including antibiotics, to another person's animal.
Complaint Process File complaint (free) with Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board. Board investigates and violators are punished by Board determination. None


Published: February 24, 2010;    Updated: June 1, 2015

Filed Under: Dental, Equine

Author: Oregon Veterinary Medical Association