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Equine Dental Qualifications Explained

Currently in Great Britain, a wide variety of people perform equine dental procedures. Some may be well trained and appropriately qualified Equine Dental Technicians, some may be Veterinary Surgeons, some are both, and some may be very inexperienced people who have had minimal training, but nevertheless perform very advanced dental procedures, sometimes damaging equine teeth. On some occasions they cause serious, even life-threatening injuries to horses’ jaws, mouths and throats. Other people (sometimes referred to as ‘tooth raspers’ because that is basically all they are legally allowed to do in the UK) just perform simple Category 1 procedures such as rasping off small dental overgrowths.

Category 1 Equine Dental Procedures:

These procedures may be carried out by anyone, irrespective of whether they have undertaken any training or have any qualifications. 

  • Examination of teeth

  • Removal of sharp enamel points using manual (hand) floats only

  • Removal of small dental overgrowths (maximum 4mm reductions) using manual rasps only

  • Removal of loose deciduous caps

  • Rostral profiling of the first cheek teeth (maximum 4mm reductions), previously termed ‘bit seat shaping’

  • Removal of supragingival calculus

A further group of procedures has been deemed suitable to be performed by Equine Dental Technicians that have passed a Defra approved examination such as the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) / British Veterinary Dental Association (BVDA) exam. (In order to join the BAEDT, this exam must be passed). At the present time, the BAEDT is the only association for equine dental technicians that the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) endorses, and encourages its members to support. These further procedures are designated as Category 2 procedures and are listed below:

Category 2 Equine Dental Procedures:

These are additional procedures that are suitable for delegation to an EDT who has trained and passed an examination approved by DEFRA: 

  • Examination, evaluation and recording of dental abnormalities

  • The extraction of teeth or dental fragments with negligible periodontal attachment.

  • The removal of erupted, non-displaced wolf teeth in the upper or lower jaw under direct and continuous veterinary supervision

  • Palliative rasping of fractured and adjacent teeth

  • The use of motorised dental instruments where these are used to reduce dental overgrowths and remove sharp enamel points only. Horses should be sedated unless it is deemed safe to undertake any proposed procedure without sedation, with full informed consent of the owner. 

Category 3 Equine Dental Procedures:

Everything else must be carried out by a veterinary surgeon.


You can check your Equine Dental Technician has passed the appropriate exams by clicking the following links.

BAEDT (BEVA/BVDA approved) EDT’s-

Or a less recognised defragging approved Equine Dental Qualification:


WWAED approved EDT’s-

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Motorised Dental Equipment Vs Hand Floats

Motorised dental equipment is the way the industry is going. All the top Veterinary Dental Specialists are using power tools routinely and to pass the exam you are required to predominantly use power tools but show a use of hand floats. This is because you do a much better job, are less likely to cut them and can much more efficiently reduce overgrowths. The kit has come on so much it is lightweight and diamond chip designed to cut through teeth but not soft tissue, there is still risk of grazing them but nowhere near as badly as if you do with a hand float. Heating up the teeth and taking too much off is possible with power tools but this is hard to do and very unlikely to happen if your dentist is suitably qualified to use it. Equine Dentists that have passed the BEVA/BVDA or Cat 2 WWAED exams and Veterinary surgeons are the only people aloud to use motorised dental equipment and therefore the only ones insured to use it, however I know of a few unqualified dentists that do use it illegally which is why it's so important to check your Equine Dentist is qualified and vet has had suitable training. Most horses surprisingly stand much better with the motorised equipment compared to the hand floats and sedation is rarely required but should your horse need it we can provide it.



What about Horses is the wild?

There is evidence from fossils that mankind has domesticated horses as far back as 4000BC, the fossils showing damage to the teeth of the horses by use of a bit, since then we have been selectively breeding horses for attractive traits such as speed or ability to jump. What we have not done however, is to selectively breed horses to have good dentition and so unlike the wild horse, there is no survival of the fittest. Horses that would not be able to survive in the wild are used to breed and so we have bred dental problems into the horse. For example Miniature Shetlands often have large teeth in a relatively small head, leading to overcrowding and subsequent displacement of teeth.

The closest thing we have to wild horses in this country are the moorland ponies and working throughout Devon and Cornwall, I see a large number of these, including ponies which have only recently left the moors. Nearly without fail, these ponies have at the very least sharp edges and often, much greater problems.

The domestic horse lives much longer than its wild ancestors and so its teeth must also last much longer. So in summary Wild horses do have dental problems.

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