The Five-Minute Dental Check-Up

This is the way we brush our teeth, brush, our teeth, brush our teeth ...

Monday afternoon Bear had his annual visit with the dentist.

His experience is a little different from ours, however. The dentist comes to him.

Bear gets a home visit. No waiting in a sterile dentist’s waiting room, tortured by muzak and picking through last year’s trade magazines.

Nope. Just hanging out over a pile of hay, as usual, waiting his turn in the comfort of his own stall.

That’s not to say he doesn’t experience some degree of anxiety.

When I arrived for my Monday ride he was standing at the back of his stall, eyes wide, ears pricked back toward Mac two stalls down who was in the throes of dental rapture. (Not!)

And down the aisle, Bear’s normally placid paddock companion, Sam, was stomping and snorting in protest, the ting of metal rasp against water-filled metal bucket more than he cared to process. And his turn isn’t until Thursday.

Bear was next on the list.

“Does he need to be tranquilized,” I asked innocently enough, convinced, of course, that my baby could manage without it and save me the extra cost of the tranq.

“Oh, yes,” answered Coach, “but it’s not so strong a dose that you won’t be able to ride after.”

This fit into my time frame so I stood back and watched the show unfold.

Mac’s dental work complete, the good doc stopped by Bear’s stall to “fix him up” before heading over to dear old Teddy who, in his 30s now, is pretty long in the tooth. As you know, my boy is placid for the most part but, like most of us, he’s not big on the poking and prodding that comes with getting your teeth done.

Within minutes, and with Ted sporting a relieved look on his face, the good doc was in Bear’s stall, his hand up to his wrist in my boy’s mouth feeling for sharp edges, broken teeth and other dental issues. Coach was keeping a firm hold of Bear’s halter to provide support. With a grasp of what was going on in Bear’s oral cavity, the good doc then went to town with the rasp (like a huge metal nail file), floating away the rough edges of Bear’s pearly whites.

(Some equine dentists use electric horse tooth rasps, but this guy works mostly by hand. I like that. Who do you know that likes the sound of the dentist’s drill? 😉 )

There’s not much a dopey horse can do in this situation but roll his eyes and enjoy the attention, such as it is.

With Bear’s thoughts lost in the ether somewhere it look barely five minutes for the good doc to take care of business and announce a clean bill of oral health for my boy.

His next appointment is set for a year from now.

Bear Smiles

I should be so lucky. 😉

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

7 thoughts on “The Five-Minute Dental Check-Up

  1. Not something I have ever really thought about…so interesting and no problems luckily. Let me ask please what would happen if the horse did not like the exam? It could go really wrong. I have great respect for hooves. Do they ever really revolt?
    I managed a dental office for many years and witnessed first hand what can happen to a reluctant human patient. Kathryn

    • Any horse put in a stressful situation will react aggressively, usually out of fear. In the wrong hands this heightened state can be elevated to a dangerous point for both horse and handler. Teeth and hooves are natural defences when a horse feels threatened. The best thing to do is create conditions where they feel safe and to handle them with quiet confidence. Horses live in the moment, can read vibes and are master at over-reacting. Believe me, it’s no fun to be in the immediate vicinity of a highly stressed horse. 😉

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