Michelle Fox, DVM

Serving Phoenix, the Verde Valley and Northern Arizona. 
Please call , text or email for appointments. 



What are the signs my horse needs a dental?

Obvious signs of dental disease include: dropping feed while chewing, nasal discharge, foul-smelling breath, weight loss and lumps or swelling on the face. Often horses will show more subtle signs that are often misinterpreted as behavior problems. Some clues you may notice: avoiding bit contact, head tossing, difficulty flexing, working to one side, or performing certain maneuvers For this reason every horse should have an an annual dental exam. Sometimes horses experiencing pain in their mouth will rub their teeth on stall walls or other objects. This horse has caused damage to the incisors in this manner.


Is sedation really necessary?

Floating is not painful, as only non-sensitive tooth is removed. However, sedation helps the horse tolerate the placement of a speculum to hold the mouth open. It also helps reduce anxiety the horse may feel due to the unusual noise and vibrations of the instruments in the mouth. This allows the entire mouth to be carefully inspected using a very bright, specialized light. All horses receive a physical exam before any sedation is administered.

Will motorized instruments burn my horses’ teeth?

Equine dentistry has undergone some big advances in recent years. One of the most noticeable changes has been the shift from hand floating to the use of motorized equipment. Initially, practitioners adapted available tools for use on horses. Some of the tools were not always appropriate and in the hands of unskilled users could be harmful. Experience and skill allow Dr. Fox to reduce teeth safely. Only a small amount of tooth can be removed at any one time. Major corrections may have to be performed over several visits. The goal is always to remove as little tooth as possible to achieve a comfortable mouth with maximum chewing ability. Very aggressive floating can be detrimental and even shorten the lifespan of a horse. Diamond burrs and instruments are specially designed for the equine mouth. They allow for rapid and efficient correction of teeth, but are very gentle on soft tissues.  This means less sedation and less stress on your horse. 

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