Welcome to North Wind Equine! We look forward to working with your and your horse. This page will answer some basic questions for new clients looking for the right dental care for their horse. If a question you have is not addressed here, please contact us for more information!
What questions should I ask before having someone work on my horse's teeth?
Doing your research before choosing someone for your horse's dental care is important. Whether you choose us or someone else, there are important questions you should ask to make sure you understand what kind of care you will be getting. Some of these questions include:
1. Do you use sedation?
(Unsedated dentistry can be dangerous for the horse and handler/s, as well as potentially ineffective. Serious problems may not be diagnosed because the entire oral cavity cannot adequately be examined.)
2. Do you do a pre-sedation physical exam on my horse?
(A physical exam will help determine if your horse is healthy enough for a sedative procedure.)
3. Do you use a mirror for your oral exam?
(A mirror aids in the exam by allowing the practitioner to visualize the entire oral cavity and all of the spaces between the teeth, even in the very back of the mouth.)
4. Do you do a thorough check of the soft tissues and my horse's periodontal health?
(Periodontal disease is very common in the horse and can be very painful.)
5. Do you have access to radiographs (x-rays) if needed?
(Radiographs are used when a problem is found in the mouth that requires further diagnostics by looking at the roots of the teeth and the surrounding bone.)
6. Are you able to extract a broken tooth if needed?
(Tooth extractions can be difficult and delicate procedures that may require significant time and equipment, depending on the problem.)
7. If not a veterinarian, are you a licensed teeth floater?
(Please note, in North Dakota and Wisconsin, non-veterinarians working on horses' teeth is illegal. In Minnesota, there are licenced "teeth floaters" (a list may be found on the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine's website), but only veterinarians are allowed to use power equipment, sedation, and extract teeth.)
What signs may indicate that my horse may benefit from a dental examination and treatment?
Resisting or refusing the bit or bridle
Rearing or bucking under saddle
Reluctance to bend or turn under saddle
Difficulty with leads
Quidding (dropping balls of hay)
Gaping mouth when chewing or being ridden
One-sided nasal discharge or smell
Swelling of the upper or lower jaw
Drainage from the upper or lower jaw
Odd appearance of the incisors (front teeth)
Weight loss or failure to gain, despite adequate nutrition being offered
Over one year since their last dental examination
What Makes North Wind Equine Unique?
At North Wind Equine, safe and appropriate dentistry is our passion. The veterinarians at North Wind Equine focus exclusively on dentistry to give our clients and their horses an unparalleled experience in our region. We focus on the health of the whole horse and believe that dentistry is so much more than "just a float."
Each veterinarian is completely ambulatory and travels to your location with a horse trailer that has been retrofitted to accommodate one horse along with our instruments and equipment. We welcome owners and their friends to watch what we are doing, ask questions, and learn more about their horse's mouth during their appointments.
How does an appointment with North Wind Equine work?
As mentioned above, each veterinarian at North Wind Equine travels with a horse trailer that has been retrofitted to accommodate one horse along with our instruments and equipment with enough room left for owners to have a seat and be involved with the appointment. Working out of a trailer allows us to create a lower stress, consistent environment where the patient is securely positioned in a set of padded stocks.
When we arrive at your farm, we will need about 10 minutes to get set up (a little longer in winter). You can help by directing the veterinarian to the best place to park, keeping in mind that the trailer needs to be fairly level and near a functional electrical outlet (we will bring a 100-foot extension cord). We will also need access to water for the appointment. Warm or hot water is greatly appreciated, though we do carry water heaters if needed. In the summer, access to a hose can be very helpful.
The basis of good dental care is a thorough examination. To accomplish this, all patients need to be sedated. A physical examination is performed on each animal outside the trailer to ensure they are healthy enough for sedation. Then, the patient is given a dose of sedation prior to loading in the trailer. Every equid is additionally given an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) to decrease inflammation and soreness associated with having their mouth open for an extended period of time. If your horse has gastric ulcers or is currently on an NSAID (for example, bute or equioxx), please let us know before the appointment so that we can adjust their medications accordingly.
Once the patient is sedated, the mouth is rinsed to remove all food before proceeding with either survey radiography (x-rays) or a full oral examination. The mouth is held open using an oral speculum. With a good light, a variety of dental probes, and a mirror, all 36-44 teeth (the exact number of teeth per patient depends on gender and the presence of wolf teeth), can be examined individually and as a whole. A thorough evaluation of all soft tissue structures and periodontal (gum) health is also performed during our comprehensive exam. Once problems have been identified, a plan for further diagnostics (such as radiographs) and/or treatments (such as at-home care or tooth extractions) can be made. Some diagnostics and treatments may be performed at the same appointment. If an advanced procedure (usually tooth extraction) is recommended and you choose to move forward with the recommendation, in most instances this treatment will be performed at a second appointment. It is important to remember that the teeth are living, changing structures and can be damaged by overly aggressive work. The goal of equine dentistry is to remove as little tooth as necessary to give the horse a comfortable and functional mouth.
Animals are kept in the trailer until they are awake enough to safely back out. The average time a patient is in the trailer is about 60 minutes, depending on the amount of work done and how long the horse takes to wake up.
Because the sedative is still active and inhibits the horse's ability to swallow and react, animals need to stay in a safe environment with no hay or grain for about 1 hour after leaving the trailer. This can be a stall or a paddock where no other horses can pick on them. In most instances, after the hour is up, the animal can go back to their regular feed and environment. Occasionally, due to the specific treatment that was performed, different post-appointment accommodations may be needed and you will be provided with detailed instructions. To ensure the sedation has fully worn off, equids should not be ridden or worked for the rest of the day after their dental appointment.
**Changes in Protocol due to COVID-19**
These are the changes we have made to our protocols in order to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 when interacting with people outside your household. As always, these risks are never zero. If you are feeling ill, have a fever, or have been in contact with someone you believe is infected with COVID-19, please postpone your appointment for 14 days.
At this time:
1. One person should be chosen to handle all the horses who will be seen at the appointment.
2. We will be wearing masks while we are on your property. The person who is handling horses for the appointment should also wear a mask as horses sometimes have their own ideas about our plans to stay 6 feet away from each other.
3. If possible, please have your horse ready for us in a stall or paddock without a halter on. We will use our halter and lead rope. If such a space is not available, we will leave your halter on and switch to our lead rope while a horse is tied/held.
4. Only North Wind Equine employees may enter our trailer. We are happy to take pictures/video so that owners, friends, family, etc. can see what we are seeing inside the horse’s mouth. The person who is attending the appointment may stand outside the trailer door at a safe distance for updates if they like. We are happy to update any owners who cannot be present for the appointment by phone or email.
5. According to your preference, we can email you your paperwork or print it out as normal. We are still accepting cash, check, or credit cards.
6. While we appreciate everyone’s natural instinct to help, please refrain from touching trailer doors, halters, etc. while we are loading, unloading, and handling horses unless instructed to do so. If you need to get our attention, please shout rather than knocking on the trailer doors.
7. Please keep in mind that we may be required by local authorities to postpone appointments in the event of a surge in the virus.
8. On our end, we will be carrying a hand-washing station, screening staff for fevers/other symptoms daily, wearing masks, and following the CDC’s disinfection protocols.
What are the appointment options and pricing?
The North Wind Package
Comprehensive oral exam including floating and odontoplasty plus annual baseline radiographs (x-rays) and any additional radiographs that are needed due to a concern noted on oral exam. The price for this package is approximately $290 for existing patients (seen in the past 3 years) and approximately $370 for new patients. Includes at least 10 radiograph shots ($500 value) plus any additional shots needed for diagnostics or monitoring for the next 12 months. Recheck exams throughout the year will be approximately $190 and any necessary radiographs will be included at no extra charge, provided recommended timing on the chart is followed.
The Basic Package
Comprehensive oral exam including floating and odontoplasty without radiographs (x-rays). The price for this package is approximately $190 for existing patients (seen in the past 3 years) and approximately $270 for new patients. If radiographs are recommended due to a concern noted on oral exam and you elect to move forward, they will be priced at $50 per view. (For most concerns, at least 2 and up to 8 views are needed for diagnosis.) Recheck exams throughout the year will be approximately $190 and any recommended radiographs will be priced per view.
Which appointment package should I choose?
The North Wind Package includes individual radiographs recommended for specific issues noted in the exam, but it also includes a complete set of radiographs of all the teeth. The complete set is recommended to allow the veterinarian to diagnose any issues above or below the gum line not evident in the exam. Since so much of the tooth is below the gum line for much of a horse's life, this is the best way to make an early diagnosis of periodontal (gums and ligaments around the tooth) disease, endodontic (the tooth itself) disease, as well as impacted teeth, oral tumors, and jaw problems. Catching these problems early often allows for treatment to stop the progression of the disease and may prevent pain and the need for extractions and/or surgery for your horse.
We strongly recommend the North Wind Package for new clients so we can fully evaluate your horse. We can find unexpected things on survey radiographs (see radiographs!). This is especially true if your horse is having significant problems chewing, is showing discomfort while working, or has any facial swelling, drainage, or foul smell. This package is also recommended for any horse that has a previously diagnosed dental condition such as a broken tooth, periodontal disease, or Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis (EOTRH).
If you have questions regarding which package is right for your horse, please contact us.
Have questions about what you should feed your horse? Click here to go to our Nutrition Corner.
Is your question not addressed here? Contact Us!
Tooth in Sinus - Incidental finding on a new patient North Wind Package
Please note that our response time to inquiries is 24-48 hours, Monday-Friday.