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Annie Currin Spring 2013 ATE 2945 Due Date: 3/18/13 Word Count: 455

Currin 1 Dental Floats This week at Central Florida Large Animal the main procedure I saw was the dental float. Floating is the term used to describe the process of mechanically adjusting the occlusal surfaces of the horses teeth (McCurnin). This should be done once a year, although some horses can manage to go a few years without needed a float. Many tools are needed for dental floats, including mouth speculums, mechanical files, and electrical files. Dr. Walter uses a mechanical file, which saves him on both time and physical exertion. Each float takes about twenty minutes from beginning to end. Before beginning the float, Dr. Walter feels the horses mouth using a simple lateral excursion test to determine how bad the teeth are. If the horses lower jaw moves to the left side but not the right, he knows there is a problem on the right side. If the horses lower jaw moves to the right and not to the left, he knows there is a problem on the left side. If the jaw is completely locked and will not move, he knows there is likely to be severe hooks in the back of the mouth preventing movement. To begin the float, Dr. Walter sedates the horse using a special cocktail of Xylazine, Torbugesic, and Ace. After a few minutes, when the horse is feeling good (as Dr. Walter would say), he would slowly remove the halter and gently place the mouth speculum over the horses head and insert it into its mouth. Once inside the mouth, Dr. Walter adjusts the mouthpiece to open enough so a hand can be reached inside of the mouth. The special electrical file is used to smooth out each row of teeth until they are all flat and even. Once the teeth are in a

Currin 2 healthy alignment, Dr. Walter uses another special tool that has a diamond edge rotating head to curve the outer edges of the teeth to prevent any sharp points or edges. Dr. Walter impressed upon me that the purpose of a dental float isnt to just flatten the sharp points on teeth, but to ensure the animal will be able to eat more efficiently. A self-check test a veterinarian can do when finished with the float is to again check the lateral excursion. If the horses jaw moves from side to side evenly, the problem has been corrected. If not, they know there is more work to be done. Even though it only took about two hours for Dr. Walter to perform five floats, I know this is not an easy job. He told me that it took him about 1,000 times before he was comfortable enough not to stop every two minutes to check the horses teeth. Sources Annie Currin. Personal Observation. March 15, 2013. McCurnin, Dennis M., and Joanna M. Bassert. "Chapter 32: Dentistry and Oral Surgery." Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders, 2006. 1146-1147. Print.