Over the last few years, Dr. Shane has been using the Powerfloat to reduce sharp points and edges to the molars of horses so they can chew better. The Powerfloat is a motorized dental tool that uses a small grinding wheel to file down the sharp points that develop over time as your horse chews his food. All herbivores naturally grind their own teeth down over time, they just don’t always do it evenly. As a horse ages, these points become very sharp and eventually cause ulcers in the cheek and tongue. It becomes painful to chew and so they chew slower and loose weight. Most older horses, those over 15 years, have prominent points that need to be reduced (aka “floated” or “filed”).
We have found that most horses accept the Powerfloat quite well. It is easier and faster than hand floating. We do not have to hit the back of their mouth repeatedly so we don’t get any bleeding like we sometimes did with hand floating. The horse is given a very light sedative prior to the procedure and a full mouth speculum is placed on their head. Dr. Shane wear’s a head lamp to look into the mouth as he floats the teeth.
A few owners have been reluctant to use the Powerfloat because they have heard it takes too much tooth off. There is no danger of taking too much tooth off. In fact, the most common problem is not taking enough. Dr. Shane watches as he grinds down the points and then carefully feels with his hand to determine how much of the excess tooth to reduce. Sometimes it will look like smoke is coming from the horse’s mouth during the reduction. This is actually tooth dust and not a sign of over grinding.
The Powerfloat has revolutionized the ease and speed of dentistry in veterinary medicine for horses. All we need is electricity and about 10 minutes. Many times it takes longer set up and sedate that it does to actually do the procedure. Teeth should be checked every fall and spring when Dr. Shane is there to vaccinate. Most horses over 15 years old need an annual reduction to keep them healthy for many more years to come.