Just as dentists provide dental care to human patients, specially-trained technicians, called equine dental technicians, tend to the dental health of horses. Equine dental techs perform basic dental procedures on horses, such as cleaning and floating, the process of filing down a horse's teeth so it can properly chew its food. The techs work with veterinarians to complete complicated procedures such as extraction.
Rules and Regulations
The laws regulating equine dental care vary greatly from state to state, with some states allowing only formally-trained veterinarians to provide dental care to horses. Some states allow equine dental techs to perform basic dental care, but only under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. For example, in Georgia, equine dental techs may do basic procedures such as cleaning and filing but only under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Equine dental techs in states that do allow equine dental techs to practice typically obtain special training and certification.
The International Association of Equine Dentistry is the primary provider of certifications for equine dental technicians. Most of the specialty equine dental schools prepare students to earn the IAED designation. Certification also comes from industry associations such as the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians and vet schools, such as the Academy of Equine Dentistry.
Applicants for a certification program must fulfill certain requirements, including submitting an application and paying an application and exam fee. Some programs require the tech to become a member of that organization before undergoing the certification process. Other requirements include submitting dental case work and obtaining sponsorship from a currently certified dental tech or licensed veterinarian. Some students must complete classes and work under a current certified dental tech for a specified amount of time. To maintain certification, equine dental techs must renew every few years, typically one to three years. Most programs require techs to take a specified number of continuing education courses in the years between renewal.
Each certification program requires the applicant to pass a series of written and practical exams. Applicants for certification through IAED must pass a written exam, skull evaluation and full dental procedure on a test horse. The certification exams cover topics such as horse anatomy, tooth structure and names, mastication and common equine dental problems. Along with the numerous specialty vet schools and equine dental schools that offer classes to help prepare students to take certification exams, the AAEVT and Academy of Equine Dentistry also provide training and exam-prep courses.
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