Today was another long dental day. This was Dawn's second appointment, to remove two more damaged molars, for a total of three. She has a fourth fractured molar, but it appears to be alive and stabile at the moment so it's being left alone.
The dental surgical team arrived at around 9:15 a.m., and by 9:30 a.m. Dawn was sedated, in the stocks and they were working away - two vets, a vet tech and an assistant who did the heavy work of positioning and holding up her head. I was so proud of her. When I brought her into the barn, she saw the stocks and all the equipment and she knew what was up, but she walked right up and stood on a loose lead while they gave her the shot for sedation. She seems to understand that when I ask her to do unpleasant things like this, that it's for a good reason, and she always cooperates with whatever I ask.
I didn't leave the barn for lunch until after 11:30 a.m.. They work carefully and slowly to be sure that the whole tooth (in this case two adjacent teeth) is fully removed with no breakages or fragments remaining behind. This is difficult to do with a horse who isn't elderly, as the teeth have very large roots. This surgeon has pioneered new techniques to do these extractions without the use of general anesthesia and without going in through the side of the jaw - he goes in through the mouth and using facial nerve blocks, as well as sedation, which reduces complications and recovery time. Both my equine dentist and my vet/vet hospital use this surgeon and his team for dental surgery work.
Dawn's two extractions took time, since the teeth were fractured and also had large roots. They also said that Dawn being so healthy otherwise and such a cooperative patient was what made it possible to do these extractions at the barn, rather than at a vet clinic.
When they are done, they take x-rays to be sure that everything has been removed. In the case of one of Dawn's teeth, there was a fragment (that was already fractured off in the original x-rays they took) which didn't come out with the whole tooth. The surgeon was able to remove it within a few minutes, but it's that degree of care and attention that makes the difference.
Another boarder's horse was also being seen - he's almost 30. He has troubles with his incisors - a number of them are fractured, and many of them are being reabsorbed by their bony sockets. His owner (who wasn't able to be there - I was looking after him) elected to have the worst tooth removed, which didn't take long and didn't even require nerve blocks, just sedation, since the root was fairly short. His remaining incisors may also fail over time.
After a quick lunch, I came back to the barn about 12:30 p.m.. Dawn was able to walk well enough by then that I moved her to her own stall (she'd been borrowing another stall near where the vet team was set up). Then I sat with her in her stall until after 2:00 p.m., reading a book. Since she was in the barn by herself, and had nothing to eat, she seemed to appreciate the company. She snuffled around in her shavings and ate fragments of hay. When Pie and Red came in from turnout, I groomed them, and then at 3:00 p.m. I was able to give Dawn her hay and feed her her dinner - she fell on the food and seemed to be chewing without difficulty. I also gave the other horse his hay, and his owner came by later and gave him his dinner.
She's getting some Banamine for the next 3-5 days to help with pain and swelling, and also is getting Uniprim antibiotics once a day for about 10 days.
This whole dental experience wasn't cheap, but it should make a big difference to Dawn's quality of life now and as she gets older. Not having damaged/diseased teeth will allow her to be more comfortable, eat better and hold her weight. I'm fortunate to have such an excellent dentist - Mike Fragale - who does a superb job maintaining my horses' teeth but also knows when the specialized services of a vet specializing in equine dentistry - Dr. Travis Henry and his crew at Midwest Equine - are required.
Now Dawn will get two weeks off from riding, so Pie is my one currently rideable horse. (Red says "but what about me? Me? Me?" I say "soon, Red, soon, for now we get to walk around together.")