At what age should I start?

The first dental examination should be performed at birth, alongside the post-foaling check-up. This will pick up, at an early stage, abnormalities such as parrot mouth and wry nose. Any attempted treatments for these conditions will need to be started early, so prompt recognition of these abnormalities is required.

Young horses have softer teeth and, as a result, form sharp edges more quickly which can result in trauma to cheeks and tongue. It may be necessary for some horses to have routine dental examinations (and rasping of the teeth if necessary) from 1 year of age. Otherwise dental examination and rasping should be started prior to bitting the horse for the first time.

For further information, please see the horse owners booklet on Dentistry in the ‘Health Horses’ series by MSD Animal Health.

How often should I get my horses teeth done?

Equine dental care is best performed on a little and often basis. Assuming that routine removal of sharp enamel overgrowths is all that is required, horses up to the age of 10 years should be checked every 6 to 12 months. This interval may be lengthened to 12 months for individuals with good dentition.

Horses with more severe dental problems may need to be seen more frequently. We would be happy to advise you on this at the time we examine your horse. All our vets are equipped with dental examination and rasping equipment in order to offer you the highest standard of equine dental care.

I think my horse may have a dental problem, who should I contact?

Bell Equine practice offers a complete dental service alongside our regular veterinary work. Many of our vets have undertaken further training in this field. As vets, we are able to make a diagnosis and provide you with a full treatment plan for your horse’s problem, which may or may not be tooth related. Most important the vet can administer pain relief, provide antibiotics and anti-tetanus prophylaxis at the same time as checking your horses’ teeth.

Antonio Hinojosa ​holds an advanced certificate in dentistry and now spends the majority of his clinical time performing equine dentistry, alongside his role as a member of our ambulatory and emergency veterinary team.

This means we are able to offer you a comprehensive veterinary service including dental examination. In many cases, horses which initially show signs of dental disease in fact have other problems. It is important that these non-dental conditions are not overlooked, as might happen with a non-veterinary dental technician. For this reason and for those cases where more complicated dental problems have arisen, our vets may arrange an internal referral to Antonio Hinojosa.

If you prefer to use the services of a non-veterinary dental technician, we would encourage you to only use those who are members of BAEDT and WWAED. The members of this association are the only individuals to have untaken the appropriate examinations, carry appropriate insurance, and are accountable through a regulatory framework. Please note that whilst we are more than happy to provide sedation to aid appropriately trained and qualified dental technicians, we are obliged to stay for the duration of most procedures. We charge a significantly reduced hourly rate for this service. It is often cheaper for you if we carry out both the sedation and dental work for your horse. If wish to discuss what we can offer please contact the Bell Equine reception team on 01622 813700 or

I am concerned that my veterinary surgeon is not trained in equine dentistry

A large amount of a veterinary surgeon’s training covers the field of equine dentistry, particularly concentrating on the diagnostic approach that is essential to high quality dentistry. Furthering this initial education, many of the veterinary surgeons at Bell Equine have undertaken extra tuition and training in this discipline and are all equipped to offer a complete equine dental care service for routine cases.

As Qualified Veterinary Surgeons we are able to provide sedation, pain relief and local anaesthesia as required during dental work, allowing a more thorough result and less pain and stress to your horse. This can also be safer for the horse, veterinary surgeon and the handler!

I have been told my horse requires the use of motorised equipment, I am worried about this

Motorised dental instruments can be very useful in dental care of the horse. They allow very precise removal of overgrowths compared with manual equipment and when used appropriately are preferable. However, the potential for incorrect removal of tooth material and damage to soft tissues means that the patient (your horse) needs to be restrained adequately with sedatives.

The use of motorised instruments in unsedated patients is very risky, particularly where inadvertant movement of the horse can result in serious damage to the oral cavity that cannot be corrected. Motorised instruments can also cause thermal trauma to teeth and therefore it is necessary that the equipment used is water cooled.

Bell Equine has access to the very latest motorised equine dental instruments. Antonio Hinojosa, along with other members of our team are available to treat cases which require motorised work, as well as being able to administer sedation. This is usually cheaper for clients as the entire case, including both sedation and treatment, can be managed by one person.

I would like Bell Equine to sedate for my Equine Dental Technician. How should I do this?

We are willing to provide a sedation service for suitably trained and qualified equine dental technicians where appropriate. A list of those individuals we are happy to sedate for can be found on the BAEDT website and the WWAED website. If you require an appointment then please contact our reception team on 01622 813700.

It is often helpful for us to discuss the type of procedures proposed with your equine dental technician, in order that we can ensure that enough time is allowed for provision of sedation and that no further diagnosis is required prior to treatment. Please make sure you ask your dental technician to contact us prior to the visit so we are best able to help and ask that the equine dental technician completes a form prior to the appointment, which can be obtained from our reception team. If sedation is being administered for an equine dental technician to carry out work, then we may ask the owner to complete a consent form to clarify our responsibility and the risks involved.

Please note as we are obliged, in law, to supervise the work being performed, so will have to stay for the majority of the procedures being performed. Bell Equine charges a significantly reduced hourly fee for this service, as well as the cost of the sedatives and visit. In some situations, though, it may be cheaper for one of our vets to carry out this work. If you wish to discuss this further then please contact us where we will be happy to advise you.

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide sedation for any surgical dental procedures. This includes, but is not limited to, treating periodontal disease, treating caries, treating endodontic disease and extraction of any teeth, other than normal non-displaced wolf teeth. Qualified equine dental technicians have been assessed to a high standard in routine dental care procedures, but are not qualified or insured in such acts of veterinary surgery. It is, therefore, potentially harmful to your horse if they undertake more complex treatments and we are unable to facilitate this. If you have been advised by your vet or a dental technician that your horse may require these types of treatment, we would very happy to work with your dental technician and/or veterinary surgeon on a referral basis.

For the current British Equine Veterinary Association regulations with regards to dental treatments which can and cannot legally be carried out by Equine Dental Technicians, please click on the link HERE.

Cases can be treated as a referral by Antonio Hinojosa, who is fully equipped, qualified and experienced in all aspects of equine dentistry and will be happy to help. Following treatment, any routine dental care needs can be discussed with your regular veterinary surgeon or dental technician.

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