Delphi had her annual teeth float three days ago. Her gums are sore where the dental machines rubbed.
Like a baby with a teething ring.
Some interesting discussion has occurred with equine dentist Brian Stuart about my previous post "After Affects of an Annual Teeth Float."
Brian had this to say: "I saw your mare on you tube. Is she better now? How long was she off her hay? How was she floated? It looked to me as though she couldn't or wouldn't work the hay back to her molars. How did it all work out? I'm a horse dentist on the east coast and the video caught my eye. I hope she is better." And, "I'm glad your mare is doing better. The video caught my eye because it typifies what I see as a problem with "modern" dentistry. I've been working inside horse's mouths my entire adult life and the current direction dentistry is taking concerns me. It is easy to overfloat or float only some teeth when the powertools are used. I don't know what a lifetime of powerfloating is going to do to your horse or anyone elses horse. In my opinion any horse that stops eating is in jeapordy. When hand tools are used it's easier to conserve tooth while reducing the sharp/high areas. I'd like to post your video on my you tube channel as an example of what would be a cause for concern. Were you there during her float? Did it go smoothly? I would be interested in any details you might share."[sic]
Let me say that I appreciate commentary intended to help horses and horse people, which I feel both Brian's and mine is attempting to do. Also let me boldly proclaim my allegiance to Delphi's current equine dentist Dr. Michael Davis who has cared for Delphi's teeth since I purchased her as a seven year old (she's twelve now). Dr. Davis is a "traditional" equine dentist who uses both hand floating and power tools, and his specialty is equine dentistry. Dr. Davis has said "The best way to keep your old horse healthy is to care for his teeth while he is a young horse." Well said, and I agree.
To answer Brian's question, a "lifetime of powerfloating" will likely protect the horse's overall health and lead to a "healthier, more comfortable horse" according to Dr. Davis' more than fifteen years of experience in equine dentistry.
Yes, I have been present during each of Delphi's annual floats. Everything went smoothly: first Dr. Davis sedates Delphi using iv sedation, then places a speculum to hold the mouth open while his assistant (hi Trey!) loops a support rope overhead to stabilize and hold Delphi's head and neck via the halter and can be adjusted as Dr. Davis needs. Dr. Davis uses several different power float and hand tools, then finishes with hand floating. Dr. Davis has encouraged me often over the past years to bring my video equipment to record the entire process (something I will not neglect to do again for next year's float!). Dr. Davis always allows and encourages me to reach into Delphi's mouth at the beginning and end of the floating and feel the difference between the sharp points at the start and the smooth edges afterward. Sympathy for the horse's mouth increases when I reach in each year to feel the sharp points that could potentially cause discomfort (pain?) and makes me aware that bits and bitting, and rider's hands, should all be as thoughtfully chosen and used as possible.
Yes, Delphi was "off her hay" for ~three days, though ate her pellet/sweet feed mix completely-- granted she only gets a couple handfuls-- and it took her longer than usual to finish her hay. After the fourth day she was eating everything normally again: hay, grain, grass. I wonder if horses that are hand floated only have sore gums for a couple days? Probably so. I have always allowed my horses a day or so off work after a float, even when hand floated only.
The video in question was taken in January 2010. In 2009 Dr. Davis extracted a wolf tooth from the right side of Delphi's mouth which improved bitting issues I'd experienced that year. The recovery from the extraction/float was also about three days.If I have to trade a few days of sore gums for a lifetime of health, so be it. However, if hand floating saves a few days of soreness as well as protecting them for a lifetime, it may be something to consider. I understand time is a commodity and am willing to continue having Delphi's teeth floated via power tools. Consistency is important: that one has the horse's mouth attended to yearly and anytime mouth issues or bitting issues appear is probably the best medicine.
My thanks to Brian for his concern and commentary. My thanks to Dr. Davis for his expertise and continued care of Delphinia.