The Advantage of a Naturally Balanced Mouth

Make changes in a minute level and achieve maximum results,
while typical dental methods use aggressive changes that yield minimal results.

The Whole Horse Approach to Functional Oral Dynamics

The paradigm we follow is that we maximize surface to surface contact of all teeth within the anatomically correct parameters of each individual. This is accomplished in relationship to the guidance and bio mechanical function of the TMJ.  This is achieved by removing the minimal amount of dental pathology to achieve the maximum results.

Equine Oral Dynamics does not focus on arguing against established dogma.
It simply puts each horse first, providing the greatest benefit for that patient.


It's All Connected
Equine Oral Dynamics views the mouth as just one part of a complex network of sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. This holistic approach to equine dentistry involves much more than simply grinding away sharp enamel points from cheek teeth. It is a paradigm of working within the anatomically correct parameters of each individual. It requires an understanding of how all the factors in each horse’s life work together to create the dental pathology he presents. After years of study, it is becoming apparent 15-20% of the cause of dysfunctional pathology can be attributed to mastication. Where as environmental influences (anything other than eating) accounts for the remaining 80-85% of pathology development.


Domestication Changed a Balanced System
Through domestication, we have altered the horse’s natural patterns of grazing, diet and physical activity, from a free roaming condition to a contained, confined living environment. As a result significant changes are seen to the normal physiology. Wild horses spend all day grazing, and thus naturally wear away small amounts of the tooth surface and keep the mouth in balance. Additionally, cultivated grasses have less of an abrasive action than natural habitat, thus compounding the problem.  The result is that, as the teeth in a horse’s mouth continue to erupt throughout their life, they erupt faster than the rate of wear, and unwanted pathologies occur. 

Other factors effecting the tooth eruption and wear cycle include physical condition, age, performance stresses and even the amount of trailering. Breeding for certain physical characteristics can produce the unwanted result of overcrowding or misalignment in the horses’ mouth.



floatingProprioception and the Central Computer
The proprioceptive nerves we are concerned with are found in the paridonal ligaments the in the aveolar sockets of the mouth, and the nerves found in the heel bulb and the frog area of the foot*. They provide information to the brain regarding the adjustment of the musceloskeletal system and movement. They influence body to correct imbalances. The changes that take place in a horses's mouth, whether naturally occurring or shaped by man, effects the proprooception in the horse's body. That is, dental pathology effects how the muscles respond to signals going in and out of the brain. Each tooth is actually programmed to a part of the horse's body.

Unnatural pathology, whether it is a protrusion on the tooth surface, an over growth, or uneven wear, is not only uncomfortable for the horse, but it also effects muscular, skeletal and neurological functions. These changes can impede the normal chewing action and will create improper pressure and rotation of the TMJ. When viewed as an complete system, it is clear to see that these imbalances and improper pressures cause the body to compensate elsewhere so that the horse can maintain its natural fight or flight responses. Those compensations may manifest in seemingly distant locations such as the sacrum, a hock, a shoulder. A mouth out of balance creates a horse out of balance.

* Studies done by Dr. Robert Bowker, Michigan State University, School of Veterinary Medicine

The Methodfiling

A comprehensive evaluation of not just the mouth, but the whole horse is important for planning a restoration strategy. By observing the horse’s body, movement and responsiveness, Phil can gauge problems before even looking at the teeth.  In some cases, such as those resulting from a past trauma or improper shoeing, it is vital to have other muscular skeletal issues fixed first through chiropractic work, acupuncture or trimming.

Phil addresses the incisors first, restoring them to proper length and angle. This allows for the proper movement of the TMJ and jaw. Once that balance is restored, the premolars and molars can be adjusted to maximize the surface to surface contact of all teeth. Phil believes in making the most conservative adjustments, removing the minimal level of pathology, yet in so doing he achieves maximum results leading to profound changes throughout the horse’s body. If correcting major imbalances, it may be beneficial to have a follow up session with a chiropractor a week after dental corrections.


The Danger of Power Floating

Power floating creates an artificial pathology in the horse’s mouth. One that propticeptively, the body can not handle, and the changes effect the whole body. A lot of practitioners and horse owners do not recognize this as an issue.

Often horse dentist go straight to the obvious sharp points and aggressively and quickly grind them down. This methodology ignores the subtle and causal problems of balance, uneven wear, and often results in compounding problems.

“In my opinion, most lay dentists have no concept of the potential issues they have created,
both physical and neurological, through power floating."
--Phil Ratliff



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