So I make money by sticking my hands in horses mouths! A lot of people have never heard of the job I do, so I thought people might be interested in an AMA.

My Proof: Edited for proof. Here is my business facebook profile and page. Expecting a lot of messages asking what 'reddit' is

Edit: Wow I never expected such a response. Thanks for all your questions guys. I actually have finals next week so I'm going to get off reddit and do some more studying. I'll be back on later for anything else you guys want to ask. Thanks again.

Edit 2 back until midnight: any more sarah jessica parker jokes, get them in now. Cheers

Comments: 452 • Responses: 82  • Date: 

toothbucket257 karma

what is sarah jessica parker really like?

horsedentistuk306 karma

Extremely polite, she nuzzled me during and didnt need any sedation, first class patient

Dwizzes200 karma

How hard is it to clean teeth with those cumbersome hooves?

toothbucket61 karma

i say neigh to continuing any equine humor. some gallop in here will get offended.

horsedentistuk98 karma

Why have I suddenly forgotten all the good horse puns I know..

stupid_cornballer162 karma

I'm sure you hoof some. Maybe at a point you were foal of them, maybe you are pasture prime, but you can still think of them if you work at it. Maybe once you have herd a few you can work past your colt streak.

horsedentistuk27 karma

You sir deserve an upvote

whose_butt_hurts79 karma

Picturing a dentist wearing one of those horse masks beloved by reddit.

horsedentistuk92 karma

Can't help thinking that would substantially raise my profile within the industry! Horses might think of me as 'one of them' too.. hmm..

marfalump53 karma

When a person feeds a horse sugar cubes, are they more likey to get cabities?

horsedentistuk63 karma

If fed enough, yes. But because horses wear down their teeth, they wear out the cavities so to speak. So its rarely a problem

marfalump37 karma

This might sound like a dumb question, but do horses ever need root canals done?

horsedentistuk57 karma

Not a dumb question at all. I have heard of it done in the states, but over here we'd usually remove the tooth. Considering some can have 4 inch roots, its not the easiest job

neanderhummus33 karma

what about horse braces

horsedentistuk51 karma

They use them in the states. Worked pretty well from what I saw.

CrystalValkyrie12 karma

Where in the world did you see horse braces over here?? I've never heard of them!!

horsedentistuk18 karma

The guy I trained with in the states had some picture of a couple of horses he had treated this way. To be honest braces is a loose term, its more similar to wiring the teeth in such a way that they align the way you want. I've checked his website and I can't find the pictures, but it looked a little like this (warning, pic is gory and nsfw)

CrystalValkyrie5 karma

Oh jeez. That....doesn't look good.

horsedentistuk7 karma

Thats a broken jaw though, its usually as dramatic. Just the wiring is similar.

2S252 karma

Would you rather clean the teeth of 100 duck sized horses or 1 horse sized duck?

horsedentistuk48 karma

One horse sized duck - ducks are awesome

2S248 karma

Now that I think about it, ducks don't have teeth. Good choice.

horsedentistuk42 karma

Glad to know my module on animals who dont have teeth came in handy

RedBull746 karma

Who or can you describe to us your worst patient, additionally your worst customer (horse owner)?

horsedentistuk95 karma

Worst patient almost killed me last year. Should have seen it coming. A new forest pony with a chain around its nose that the owner was terrified of. All the other horse owners stopped to watch when I turned up. Beast corned me in the stable, reared and tried to cleave my head in. Lesson leaned - if the owner is terrified of it - nope the hell out of there

crazzynez20 karma

How did you escape that situation? How badly were you injured?

horsedentistuk43 karma

He clipped me as he brought his feet down, so some scratches on my face, and some pretty hefty bruising on my chest. I was really luckly. I just squidged myself into the corner as much as I could and then escaped while he was getting the energy to go up for another attempt. Seriously thought about quitting after that one.

KaneHau41 karma

How do you get them to floss?

horsedentistuk50 karma

Have you ever seen those waterpiks? Thats basically what we use. H20 irrigation. Or we physically brush their teeth with the same kind of domestic scrubbing brushes you'd use to scrub the floor with. They dont like it much unfortunately

brandonsh31 karma

Do Irish priests often bring their lovely horses to you?

horsedentistuk36 karma

When theyre not showering it with sugar lumps and riding it over fences

ninavictoria23 karma

I want to shower you with sugarlumps,

And ride you over fences,

Polish your hooves every single day,

And bring you to the horse dentist. ♥

horsedentistuk28 karma

Might put that on my business cards

Bat_turd31 karma

How do you train?

How much do you earn?

Are you also a vet/farrier?

horsedentistuk36 karma

In the UK training is difficult, really the only way is to become an apprentice to another dentist and learn from them. Problem is with animal laws over here there's no way to actually get hands on experience unless you a) have a horse, b) have a friend who is willing to let you lose on theirs, or c) actually start working. I trained in America where its a lot easier to get to practice on real animals. They have accredited courses there too, but IMO actual practice is the best way to learn.

I earn £35 per horse, and can do 15 horses a day

I am neither, although I considered both careers at one point

RoseOfSharonCassidy17 karma

That is super cheap! I pay $200-$300 usd for a power float, then 50-80 on top of that for sedation if needed. Cheapest dentist I've ever seen was 100 for a hand rasping but he didn't seem very reputable.

horsedentistuk14 karma

Thats pretty much how much my trainer charged when I worked in the states. Much cheaper over here :)

bajj59711 karma

Damn... 15 horses a day, 5 days a week, 45 weeks a year (maybe even more), thats $189,000 (At a 1.6 conversion rate) a year! Or I think £113,400 (transferring it back by a .6 conversion rate). That's impressive and cheap (per horse) compared to the states.

horsedentistuk17 karma

Bloody hard work though :) Its not a rate I could keep up for long. Lots of dentists burn out after ten years or so at that rate.

Disingenuous_Dildo5 karma

That's pretty good money, I want to be an equine dentist!

horsedentistuk8 karma

Go for it, its pretty fun. Are you UK or abroad?

malcontented23 karma

Ho much does it cost to have a horse's teeth cleaned?

horsedentistuk43 karma

Horse dentists actually file down horses teeth as their main work - their teeth are like finger nails: they grow constantly and need to be worn down so they can eat, take a bit etc. A basic 'floating' (rasping) is £35 in the UK, in the states it can be anything up to $300. Teeth cleaning I usually just do for free, it doesnt take long

trevdordurden18 karma

Why us there such a price difference?

horsedentistuk43 karma

Its a different business over there. The guy I worked with had a mobile clinic that cost around $100,000. It was better equipped than some operating theaters I've seen. All the horses were sedated, and we used power tools instead of hand rasping. Hence the costs went up dramatically. People (at least in the states I was in) tend to spend more on their horses in the states than in the UK, and tend to question the experts less. So if we said something needed doing, they always went ahead with it. Its not a bad thing, just a different culture.

They guy I trained with over here actually tried to implement the american system of care over here, and went bankrupt. People just wouldnt pay for it

malcontented14 karma

I did not know that. So I would assume that wild horses' teeth would have worn down based on their diet. Why do we need to file down our captive horses' teeth? Have we modified their diets to less abrasive foods?

horsedentistuk30 karma

Firstly wild horses do not live as long, teeth can be a factor in that. Overgrown teeth prevent effective chewing and can cause a horse to starve to death. Secondly captive horses are ridden - the noseband presses the cheeks into the sharp edges of their teeth which can cause anything from ulcers to really horrific lacerations. We also put a bit in their mouths, which again pulls the cheek tissue onto the sharp teeth.

But youre absolutely right re food - we have. They should be eating mainly rough forage, hay etc for most of the day. Feeding concentrates (pony nuts etc) only reduces feeding time (say you feed for ten minutes 3 times a day) and the texture of the food does little to wear down the teeth. Feeding only concentrates has also been linked to other problems like cribbing and weaving, as its speculated that the stomach acid build in the horse and has nothing to digest, causing discomfort.

stupid_cornballer19 karma

How do you make the horses open their mouth but not bite you?

horsedentistuk30 karma

We use speculums, they wedge the mouth open. They dont work 100% of the time, they can still crush your fingers with their back teeth, the guy who trained me liked to regale me with the story of how horse bit down on his with his back molars, and his thumb literally exploded from the pressure. Nice.

Sometimes the speculum can just fail too. Thats happened to me, luckily all I got was a cool imprint of both sets of incisors on both sides of my wrist. Fingers wriggled out the way

stupid_cornballer20 karma

That's pretty terrifying. Side note do not google horse speculum, it is also terrifying.

horsedentistuk32 karma

Yeah, they look like something from a Saw movie. My new housemates were pretty concerned when they saw me moving my equipment in..

its_prolly_fine6 karma

My horse has a method to ratchet them off. He doesn't bite, he just thinks it's funny. They usually gotta sedate him or he just keeps getting out of them.

horsedentistuk5 karma

I guess it gives him something to pass the time. Just not great for my fingers..

yottskry20 karma

Here's my horse, Harry, having his teeth done. This is the speculum on the horse before he had his teeth rasped. Just so you get an idea of what's being talked about:

horsedentistuk17 karma

Pretty sure I have the same spec. Nice horse

yottskry25 karma

Oh he looks like a nice horse, but really he's a willfully disobedient half-ton wrecking ball who canters down the road because he's been startled by an umbrella. Nice as pie in hand; thoroughly terrifying on the road!

horsedentistuk15 karma

Typical cob :D

Jinksywinksy15 karma

What's the grossest story you can tell us about your time in the trade?

horsedentistuk30 karma

Being asked to pick dead skin out of a horse's penis. For real.

astrodog8816 karma

I live in the US and our horse's dentist always did his sheath while he was knocked out after getting his teeth floated. Teeth n' sheath. I'm pretty sure it was a special deal she ran.

horsedentistuk14 karma

Think its pretty common when theyre sedated

yottskry8 karma

I own a horse. I do this quite regularly... also, I have to remove beans quite often too... (look that up, if you're not sure)

horsedentistuk9 karma

Yes we call them beans too, just thought Reddit may not have heard that term :)

yottskry6 karma

Sorry, the "if you're not sure" wasn't aimed at you :) I figured that as a fellow horse person you would know already!

horsedentistuk4 karma

No its cool, I guessed! :)

horsedentistuk7 karma

A horse that had a salivary problem which meant he drooled buckets on to me as I worked on him. It went everywhere, it smelled, it was disgusting. It was like the smooze (if anyone remembers that from the old days of my little pony).

eraof914 karma

whats the most common issue horses have with their teeth?

horsedentistuk18 karma

Sharp points which cut into the cheeks. Can be really nasty. Here's a pic to illustrate (from google, not mine)

scriptmonkey4205 karma

What causes the sharp points? Are the natural or due to diet?

horsedentistuk6 karma

Both. They can get them due to how they chew, how their mouths and teeth are positioned, and also from not eating enough forage (hay and grass) to wear them down.

Flamewall2613 karma

What is the most overused joke in your profession?

horsedentistuk21 karma

Do you use a giant toothbrush. It wasn't that funny the first time, and after several years it hasn't gotten any more so

lolzergrush11 karma

Have you ever considered aid work? Veterinary medicine specialists are in dire need in Africa right now for programs helping to establish food security.

I can't promise great pay and benefits, but if awe-inspiring life-changing experiences are your thing you might want to consider it.

horsedentistuk9 karma

Possibly. Its something I hadn't considered, but I'll look into it. Still not sure what to do after I graduate so that might be an option. Cheers for the advice

khaugrud9 karma

At first I read that as "IamA horse AMA". Now I'm kind of disappointed.

horsedentistuk8 karma


some_person_guy9 karma

How exactly do you gain an interest in such a specialized field? Besides the obvious "I like horses and cleaning teeth, so I thought 'Why not clean horse teeth?'."

horsedentistuk13 karma

Purely cause I liked working with horses, and I like being self employed, so I saw this as a way to combine the two. Its far more physical than human dentistry, more like carpentry in a way

tinypocketowl9 karma

I didn't realize there were separate dentists for horses. I used to volunteer with some veterinarians who also floated horse teeth. One of them had recently been bitten--really parrot horsed mouth had slipped out of the speculum and just about demolished her thumbnail.

Do you use hand-powered tools, or electric-powered, or both? I've heard that hand-powered is slower but better for the teeth overall.

horsedentistuk7 karma

Thats happened to me too, its a problem with speculums, theres no way to adjust for parrot/sow mouth. Generally I don't put my hands in there any more than I need to.

I'm trained to use electric-powered but I use hand tools for two reasons. Firstly power tools are expensive and so I would have to charge my clients more, and they simply wouldn't pay it. Secondly as you said, hand tools are better. The horse has only a finite amount of tooth and the more your rasp away, the quicker the tooth will fall out.

tinypocketowl3 karma

Yes, I was definitely nervous about putting my hands in there after seeing what their teeth could to to puny human fingers.

I hadn't considered the expense of the power tools at all. If you don't mind my asking, about how much does a horse dentist make where you are? Is it comparable to a farrier?

horsedentistuk3 karma

We make a minimum of £35 a horse. I believe it is, as farriers equipment costs more, and on top of that they have to run a furnace and provide the shoes and nails.

lwwildenstein9 karma

Are horse teeth similar to human teeth?

horsedentistuk18 karma

They're not because they grow constantly. They're like a calippo ice lolly - you only see the bit thats above the packet (gum) but as thats licked (worn) away, the rest of the lolly is pushed up to take its place. Its finite, though, the tooth doesnt go on forever.

callsyouAsuperfag8 karma

Have you ever had sexual feelings towards any of the horses?

horsedentistuk41 karma

Only Sarah Jessica Parker, but she's taken apparently

samdr8 karma

How many patients do you have a day? How often do horses need to be treated?

horsedentistuk10 karma

Depends how energetic I'm feeling! I'm at uni as well. But on a full day I'll have 12 to 15 horses, mostly at different yards. I pretty much live in my car

elyze7 karma

Do you sedate your patients?

horsedentistuk22 karma

In the states - yes. Over here (in the UK) not so often - the onus is on us to dodge flying hooves and get the horse to behave, to man up so to speak. If the horse is really frightened/dangerous then sedation is give, but due to laws we require a vet to give the injection, so the cost rises enormously for the owner. In my experience they tend to just get another dentist out and claim 'he's never done that before'...

NateY3K6 karma

Are horses and upkeep for them as expensive as people stereotype them to be?

horsedentistuk8 karma

It depends how you do it really. If you have your own land or can rent a field cheaply, don't compete or shoe your horses, then you can keep them for less than a gym memberships monthly rate. Anything above that though and it can get crazy. Some people over here pay £200 a week for full livery. Tack and equipment are ridiculously expensive. Vets fees are the reason I wouldn't have another one. Insurance won't cover everything, and you can easily spend a grand on a moderately severe injury

michal775 karma

What area are you working in? We need to have our two horses' teeth done and we didn't like what our vet has done the last time so if you are in Kent or nearby, please let me know :)

horsedentistuk5 karma

Sure, I cover Kent (and Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire) I should be around there at the end of the month. All of my contact info is on facebook here

gabbagool6 karma

has anyone ever given you a horse?

horsedentistuk12 karma

They've tried. Many times, I see one I like and they'll offer it to me for practically nothing. Economy in the UK is terrible, and people can't afford to keep them

hockeyking6556 karma

What is the most and least common ailment you see?

horsedentistuk5 karma

Most common, sharp points on the molars Least common, a large piece of calculus (tartar) had managed to get in a horses cheek and move its way up the face until it was lodged just below the eye. Really bizarre

tbrays2424246 karma

Do you recommend Trident?

horsedentistuk10 karma

Believe it or not there are dentists that whiten horses teeth in the states..

I_done_a_plop-plop2 karma

Really? Do tell.

horsedentistuk6 karma

People who show horses want them to look perfect, so they provide similar teeth whitening to what humans use. Fake hair extensions are make-up are also pretty common

I_done_a_plop-plop2 karma

Yes, but don't teeth whiteners require moulds and gels and whatnot? How do you get them on the nag?

I don't know much about teeth whiteners tbh

horsedentistuk5 karma

I believe so, sorry I really dont know how they do it. No first hand experience

allbiznessa5 karma

I have a couple of mares, both around 16years old. As far as their dental needs go, I've been wetting down their alfalfa cubes and giving them Purina senior grain. They are out to pasture 24/7. Is there anything else I can do that you'd recommend? I live in Hawaii so I know our season's are different than elsewhere

horsedentistuk6 karma

Hi, it depends on their weight and the condition of their teeth, but assuming both are ok, it sounds like a good combination, particularly that they're out 24/7. At 16 their teeth should still be in good shape. Just watch out for dropping feed, or taking longer to eat.

ShartInMyTartan5 karma

You said that horses wear down their teeth, but there are expressions like "long in the tooth" and "never look a gift horse in the mouth" that imply that you can tell their age by how long their teeth are. How true is that?

horsedentistuk7 karma

As they get older their gums retract, showing more of the tooth, making them look longer. You can to an extent estimate the age of the horse by the teeth, but it gets harder as they get older

actinbell5 karma

I learned recently that kittens have baby teeth and lose them. Do horses also have baby teeth and lose them? If so How big are these baby teeth and how do they differ from the adult teeth?

horsedentistuk6 karma

They do! They are much whiter and smaller, about half an inch wide/long and called caps. They dont have the long root that adult teeth do


How did you decide to be a horse dentist? What did you go to college for?

horsedentistuk8 karma

Always worked with horses through school, I wanted to use that knowledge but make a decent living from it, which actually gave me very few options (horse industry is hardly well paid). I studied marketing at college. I won't do this forever, so my degree is my back up for when I want a less strenuous and saliva doused life

I_done_a_plop-plop4 karma

My horse, Pedigree Chum, has got a cavity. What is the best time to book you for a visit? Two thirty?

horsedentistuk8 karma

Very good sir :)

downvotethiscontent4 karma


horsedentistuk6 karma

They use braces and teeth whitening - thats the extent as far as I'm aware. Its a bit of a dark area of the industry to be honest. Im sure if you found professionals who were able you could take it further, temporary caps or something.

DrunkleDick3 karma


horsedentistuk5 karma

Hi, your job sounds cool. Extractions are usually performed at a vets clinic unless they're for wolf teeth (small shallow rooted teeth sometimes found between the canine and the pre molars) I've only been around two major extractions, one for supernumary incisor, and one for a decaying molar. Its a major job because the roots are so long. You need heavy sedation and anaesthetic. The teeth usually move to fill the gap, depending on the age of the horse. Sometimes help (in the form of braces in the states) is needed to make that happen. If the gap is not filled then yes the opposing teeth will super-erupt, as there is nothing to wear them down. This means the horse will need more regular dentistry for the rest of its life to prevent the jaw locking up

We dont use prosthetics over here, though they may do in the states.

The only time I have seen cavities filled I was told it was with the same materials used on human teeth. Sorry I cant be more specific.

No it would just be a regular dentist that fitted braces. Yes we would refer if we felt it was beyond our professional capability to advise or treat.

I do! He fills in the paperwork for me at yards so I don't smudge everything with my saliva/grass covered hands.

Sorry for the long reply. Hope that answers your questions.

DrunkleDick3 karma


horsedentistuk3 karma

No worries, thanks for contributing to my thread :)

HannahPhylaxis3 karma

Do you wear eye protection when filing the teeth down? I know of a donkey dentist who got a nice chunk of donkey enamel lodged in his cornea, he then purchased goggles but has yet to actually wear them.

horsedentistuk4 karma

With hand tools its ok, with motorised tools yes you have to, or you'll get exactly what happened to your frend. Masks are good too, tooth dust is not nice to breath in

cbyrnesx3 karma

Why is looking at a horse's teeth a general sign of its quality?

horsedentistuk7 karma

Its more an old wives tail (see what I did there.. thats only horse related pun I could think of)

Its just one of lots of things you should look at when deciding to buy one. But its no more or less important than good feet, clean legs etc

deep-sea-guinea-pig2 karma

What kind of education did you have, or is generally needed to become a horse dentist? I can't imagine anything other than veterinary medicine, with a specialisation for horses...

horsedentistuk3 karma

I worked with them throughout my teens, did a diploma in equine sports performance, then two apprenticeships

popsnicker2 karma

Is there anything special that you do besides using a float on them?

What makes a horse dentist different from what an equine vet does floating the teeth?

horsedentistuk4 karma

Not sure what you mean. Do you mean do we do any other treatments?

The difference is most vets won't be trained on how to perform dentistry. We take years to learn our craft. Difference between a GP and a surgeon really.

redblueorange2 karma

Do they ever need wisdom teeth removed? Do other animals have dentists?

horsedentistuk3 karma

We deal with other large animals such as donkeys and cows. Smaller animals usually go to a vets. Luckily horses dont have wisdom teeth

WorldsBestLoser2 karma

Is there an ideal level of teeth protrusion for the horses? I've noticed that horse teeth are often quite angled and protrusive. Has a horse ever been put in braces?

horsedentistuk3 karma

The angle changes as they age. In the states they will us all manner of mathematical equipment to file the incisors to the correct angle, but when you do that you affect the angle of the whole mouth, so its a mission (and not always in the best interests of the animal) to fix

hatchettchris2 karma

Did you go to the school in Glenns Ferry, Idaho?

horsedentistuk2 karma

No but a friend of mine did

jelvinjs72 karma

What the hell, you exist?

horsedentistuk3 karma

I do!

the_low_s2 karma

Do some of them get an erection, when you put stuff in their mouth?

horsedentistuk7 karma

Its actually a common reaction to sedation. Something they get stuck and you have to help them put it back. If you don't they can actually lose their penis

hawkshaw2 karma

How often do you get bit? If at all.

horsedentistuk2 karma

Rarely, I'm quite lucky! Or good at dodging

Jadonblade2 karma

Have you ever inspected a horse that was given as a present?

horsedentistuk2 karma

I think this is my favourite comment

eyehatemusic2 karma

How was it working with Sarah Jessica Parker?

eyehatemusic2 karma

Welp, nevermind. Someone already made this joke. :(

horsedentistuk2 karma

Sorry :( you could make a long face joke, there arent many of those

altf4life1 karma

do you use a hand file or the drill?

I had my horse get his teeth done the first few times by the vet who used a drill and he flipped shit. Ended up having to be heavily sedated and would be derpy and fucked up for at least a day. After we found an Equine Dentist who used files, he never had to be sedated. It took much longer, but he seemed much happier, and we went from floats every 6 months to floats once a year.

Just wondering what your specialty is.

Also, are you qualified to administer sedatives? There was a huge issue where I live with a dentist who administered a sedative improperly, nicked a vein in the neck and killed the horse. EDs are no longer permitted to adminster intravenous sedatives here, and that man ended up having to pay out over a million dollars and shut down his practice. Is it the same in the UK, or do you receive training for that?

horsedentistuk2 karma

I use hand files. Its not usually recommended to use power tools on unsedated horses, it can be really dangerous. Most of my clients horses are only seen once a year also. Usually only the very old/young are seen more frequently.

Its the same in the UK, we're not allowed to sedate horses, pretty much for the reason you gave - if something were to go wrong, we're not vets and so not able to basically save the horse

Ehliens11 karma

So I have a horizontal crack on one of my teeth. I guess it happened when I stopped wearing my mouth guard at night (yes I grind). How much will it cost to fix this?? and what exactly will you do??

horsedentistuk2 karma

Unless your a horse, nothing I'm afraid! I could buy you a get well card I guess

ElBrad1 karma

If someone gave you a horse, which orifice would you examine first?

horsedentistuk2 karma

My bank vault, to see if I had the millions needed to pay for its keep

ElBrad3 karma

I've never heard of a bank vault called an orifice, but I'll accept it.

We had a horse once. Never again. Hay-burners.

horsedentistuk2 karma

They are CRAZY expensive

Tommasini1 karma

Do horses have something like wisdom teeth's ?

horsedentistuk2 karma

No luckily, wouldnt enjoy extracting those

ooberu1 karma

What's the biggest danger to horse tooth health?

horsedentistuk4 karma

Their conformation (structure of the jaw and how they chew) and lack of forage (so no hay or grass)

fanatique1 karma

Can you help humans too? Have you done any work on your friends (who are not horses)?

horsedentistuk2 karma

I'm not qualified but I always get asked to look at friends/families teeth. Mostly the symptoms for problems are similar, so I can make a guess at a diagnosis.

MissMyCookie1 karma

Do you prefer using manual tools or the power tools?

horsedentistuk2 karma

Manual, unless the teeth are so bad that it would take ages to fix that way. Then power tools are the better option, IMO.

GraharG1 karma

Would you recommend looking a gift horse in the mouth or not?

horsedentistuk2 karma

Always. It might have fangs.