Horse owners

What is an equine veterinary dental Specialist?
The title of EBVS European Veterinary Specialist in Equine Dentistry, or ‘Diplomate’ of the Equine Veterinary Dental College signifies a veterinarian who has taken an extensive examination, reviewed by the Specialty Board of the European Veterinary Dental College, after completing a dental residency and all credentials necessary and passed the examination. To be eligible for this examination the veterinarian has to have completed veterinary school, completed a one-year internship and several years in a formal dental residency. After all these steps the EVDC veterinary dentist is known as a ‘Diplomate’ and may use the title “EBVS European Veterinary Specialist in Equine Dentistry”.
A Diplomate of the European Veterinary Dental College (EVDC) is a veterinarian who has been certified by EVDC as having demonstrated specialist knowledge and expertise in veterinary dentistry as a result of completing the EVDC training requirements and having successfully passed the EVDC examination.
EVDC is recognized as the specialist certification organisation in veterinary dentistry in Europe by the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation (EBVS).

When should you see a Specialist?
Many specialists see patients on a referral only basis and receive patients after a primary care veterinarian has made a formal referral or recommended the owner/animal care giver seek expert advice. Equine dental technicians may also request referral for problems they identify however this should be conducted through the owner’s usual veterinary surgeon.
Common reasons for referral to a specialist include advanced procedures like dental extractions, advanced diastema and periodontal disease management, sinus disorders and infections often as a result of dental disease, oral masses and tumours, jaw fractures, and increasingly root canal and restorative (‘filling’) procedures. Sometimes horse owners seek advice on advanced procedures such as a fractured tooth extraction or assessment to include advanced imaging such as computerised tomography (CT). A Specialist will be able to give all the options for the treatment of the horse.

Frequently asked questions from horse owners:

Should my horse be sedated for a routine dental maintenance appointment?
A small amount of sedation is highly recommended for any equine dental procedure, however routine. A very important part of any equine dental visit is the examination which should include all the structures of the head, all the parts of the mouth, including all of the teeth, the spaces between them, and all of the complex structures on the tooth surfaces. This type of detailed examination is really only possible with sedation. Horses are calm, relaxed and will benefit from early identification of developing dental or oral disease. After the examination, maintenance treatment can be performed safely and completely without any nervous or unexpected reactions. Sometimes parts of a horse’s mouth may be painful e.g. if food is packed between teeth and it is important that the horse allows full access to the mouth – a horse will often shield and protect painful areas without sedation making the procedure difficult.
It is important to remember that sedation can only be administered by a veterinary surgeon.

How can I arrange for a Specialist to see my horse?
Usually your own veterinary surgeon will recommend specialist referral if required, and will contact a specialist for you and arrange the appointment. You are however completely entitled to request a specialist consultation if you feel your horse would benefit from it, or if you feel you would like specialist help or advice. The specialist will always contact your veterinary surgeon and make sure they are aware of any relevant history. If you normally see an equine dental technician (EDT), (sometimes known erroneously as an ‘equine dentist’), they may still recommend specialist referral but this should be conducted through your normal veterinary surgeon.
A register of European Veterinary Specialists can be found here

What will happen at a Specialist consultation?
The specialist will meet you and spend some time discussing your horse’s veterinary and dental history and the events leading to the referral. Your horse will be sedated, and then examined usually in a veterinary clinic, in stocks for safe restraint. Examination of the head, oral cavity and teeth will then be very thorough, usually using an intra-oral camera for viewing and documenting the dental problem or problems. You may be able to be present during this examination, otherwise the Specialist will show you the images and perhaps video of the examination. X-rays are likely to be taken, and a CT scan may even be recommended.
After this, the specialist will discuss the findings and give you treatment options. The treatment may be carried out at the time, or arranged for a separate appointment. Referral work for equine dental problems can be complex, and it is really important that adequate time is allowed for the procedure, and that all the potential problems are explained to you in advance. It may also be necessary for your horse to stay in the clinic for a few days after the treatment.

AOE1.  Image of advanced widespread dental disease at oral examination under sedation


AOE2.  Specialist performing an advanced equine dental treatment


AOE3. Oroscope camera image of a tooth after endodontic (root canal) treatment


AOE4. Resident in training in equine dentistry performing a dental extraction procedure


AOE5. Performing a restoration (‘filling’) procedure on an equine tooth


AOE6. Oral examination image of a fractured diseased tooth


AOE7. Computerised tomography (CT) scan of an equine head showing a diseased cheek tooth (right side of image)