Health & Wellness

Equine Dental Care – A Rapidly Advancing Science

Dr. Bob Peters, McKinlay Peters Equine Hospital

Wow, fall is here! I am happy because this is my favorite time of year. Problem is I don’t remember having much of a summer. It seems like we skipped from February to September. I just wish it would do that from November to May! Those 5 months seem to take forever. In any case, there is a point to all this talk about the seasons. The fall is one of our busiest times for doing dentals, especially on older horses. We want to make sure our horses’ teeth are in “tip top” shape so they can maintain their weight through the long cold winter.

In my opinion, the biggest advancements in equine veterinary care over the past 15 years, has been in the field of equine dentistry. From the 1700’s to about 1995 there was almost no change in how we took care of a horse’s mouth. In the last 15 years there have been major advancements in our knowledge base, procedures, and instrumentation related to dentistry.

Last week we hosted a dental school for veterinarians only at our hospital. Dr. Travis Henry, one of the premier equine veterinary dentists in the world, flew in to instruct. We had 15 doctors come in for the course from all over the northwest and even Canada. It is very exciting for me to see the level of interest in this area grow. I have been very interested in dentistry for my entire career. It kind of started by accident, but has surely grown on me. In vet school I did not have one lecture, let alone an entire class on dentistry. My senior year I got to float one horse. I graduated on a Friday and started work the following Monday. The first thing my new boss told me was that I would be doing all the floats because he didn’t like it. I immediately began taking short courses, reading articles and going to every lecture I could on dentistry. And that has continued over the past 17 years.

We, as equine veterinary dentists, have come a long way. It is not just “floating” anymore. It is now called “dental equilibration”. This reflects the change from just filing down sharp points, to balancing the entire mouth. We now use sophisticated digital radiography to help us find, diagnose and treat problems much like your dentist does with you. Ninety nine percent of extraction cases we can now do intraorally while standing, as opposed to driving the tooth out with a mallet and punch under general anesthesia. The newest field is endodontics. There are tooth sparing procedures such as cavity filling when possible.

All these advancements are, in the end for “The Love of the Horse.” We are proud to be a part of making your horse happier, healthier and living longer through proper dental care.

Jed McKinlay, DVM · Bob Peters, DVM
Misty Parker, DVM · Robert K Schneider, DVM
509-928-MPEH(6734) · Email:

Related posts

Horses – Such a Blessing…

Jillian C.

Equine Eye Disease

Shelby Palmer


Jillian C.