Commonly Asked Questions
My equine dentist charges almost double what you do? Something seems fishy about this.
Why are you so CHEAP?
Those are excellent questions and are the ones I hear the most. I do not consider myself cheap. I keep my rates
affordable. People save money where they can. If a horse looks good and is riding well, even thought the horse is
over-due for dental care, the owners might push back having the dentist out because money is tight and it "can
wait". All the while the horse has extremely sharp points that are literally cutting the inside of its mouth. I am all
about "the horse". Why gouge people for a few extra dollars when it is the horse that ultimately suffers? This is
my full time job and I have a list of references from Hunter/Jumper/Dressage barns to some of the largest
rescues in the Mid-Atlantic Region. I maintain an extremely busy schedule and my clients are always
extremely happy with the quality of my work. That is a win-win for everyone.
Why does my horse needs its teeth floated?
My next most commonly asked question. A horse chews on average up to 50,000 time per day. If the horse is experiencing pain in its mouth, it
may not chew properly. This can result in weight loss and decreased performance in riding horses. Approximately 85% of all health problems begin in the mouth. When food is not chewed and properly utilized, it can result in colic and weight loss. Infections in the mouth can also travel to the heart and brain. Routine dental care can reduce or eliminate these problems. The latest research has also shown if the TMJ is not properly balanced, it can lead to back and SI pain, which often results in lameness. The more studies that are being performed, the more we are learning that a horse's overall health truly does begin in the mouth.
My Horse Is Fat And Rides Well, Why Should I Have Him Floated?
That is a great question. Some horses are quite stoic and will not let you know even when they are in terrible amounts of pain. Please visit our Case Study page to see just one example of a horse in good flesh that gave no indications under saddle that he was hurting. I can not even begin to list the horses that I've worked on that have been in beautiful weight, yet have cuts throughout their mouths and tongues. I've had owners stand there and cry when we open their horse's mouths for the first time and they see the damage that can be done by sharp points. You say, well wild horses don't get their teeth done. I point out to you, they average only 12 years of life. I don't know about you, but I want my horse to live much longer than that and be happy and healthy during those years.
How often does my horse need its teeth done?
Young horses under the age of 5 should be examined every 6 months since their teeth grow quickly. Show and performance horses should also be checked every 6 months to ensure they are comfortable and are at peek performance. Older horses, above the age of 15, should be checked every six month since dental problems in this age group can cause the horse's health to deteriorate quickly. All other horses between the ages of 5 and 15 are usually examined yearly. If your horse is examined and found not to need floated at that time or is fractious to the point of me not being able to performed a quality float, there will be a $20 fee. This helps cover gas as well as driving time to your barn.
What is a routine float?
A routine float balances the mouth so that the horse is able to chew most effectively and removes hooks and sharp points. It also can include providing a bit seat which rounds and shapes the first major premolars (the teeth the cheek is pulled against). This allows the bit to be raised off the very sensitive bars, reduces pressure on the tongue, and helps prevent the cheek tissue from being pinched between the bit and teeth. By creating bit seats, it helps reduce numerous performance issues such as tossing the head, getting heavy in the rider's hands, evading the bit, etc. Bit seats are a must have for all show and race horses, but also provides a more comfortable mouth for pleasure and trail horses.
What experience and education do you have?
I grew up around horses and developed a passion for them from a very young age. Finding a quality, yet affordable, Equine Dentist was extremely difficult. Either they wanted to sedate the horse and do the entire float with power tools or they would do the horse unsedated and shove my quiet, well behaved horses into a corner of their stall and scare them to the point everyone had a bad experience. I knew there had to be a better way. I finally took the plunge and attended the American School of Equine Dentistry, which was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Now I am mentor myself and enjoy teaching and educating others that share my same passion. In 2015 alone, I have attended conferences in Texas (twice), Oklahoma, and Massachusetts. Continuing education is extremely important in all areas of medicine. My wife is a Registered Nurse in the ER, and she always seems to be doing classes on something. Equine Dentistry is no different. Not that long ago, it was common practice to use a hoof rasp to "float" a horse. There is always a better way of doing things.
What areas do you offer your services?
Note: We will travel farther than the areas listed, but will have a minimum number of horses to be floated and there may be an additional charge.
Virginia - Clarke, Frederick, and Warren Counties only.
Pennsylvania - Philadelphia, Allentown, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and surrounding areas. Typically areas South of Rt. 80.
Maryland - All of Maryland.
West Virginia - All of West Virginia. Trips to the Charleston area are scheduled approx every 4 months.
Florida - Sean flies down approximately every 3 months to do barns in Ocala, Wellington, and West Palm Beach.
What do you charge for a farm call?
Beginning January 1, 2017, there will be a $10 fee per horse for horses located more than 100 miles from our barn. There will be a $15 fee per horse for horses 151 to 200 miles from our barn. There will be a $20 fee per horse for horses more than 201 miles from our barn. This includes rescues horses. There is no additional fees for barns located within 99 miles of our barn. ***For barns in WV, PA, and MD, that are greater than 100 miles from our barn and have eight or more horses floated the same day, we will continue to offer a greater discount. Please ask.***
What hours do you work?
Sean McCarthy EqDT is available by appointment days, evenings, weekends, and for emergencies.
Do you offer any discounts?
Base rates are as follows 1 horse $85. 2 horses floated at the same barn $75/each. 3 or more horses floated at the same barn $65/each. Rescues are a flat rate of $60, even if they are the only horse at that barn. Beginning January 1, 2017, there will be an additional fee for horses located 100 or more miles from our barn. Please see the prices under the "Farm Call" section on this page.
Do you sedate?
No, I do not offer any form of sedation. Honestly, I prefer to work on unsedated horses. I feel it can put the horse at risk for no necessary reason and most horses do not need to be sedated for a routine float. My clients remark on a regular basis about my horsemanship skills and the horses tend to respond well to my calm demeanor. I hear all the time "well I've always had to sedate my horses for the dentist" and they are usually quite impressed when I'm able to do a complete float without any sedative and the horse remains calm and relaxed. However, just like people, some horses are adamant that they don't their mouths worked on. In these cases, the client can request sedation from their veterinarian and administer it themselves (if their veterinarian allows), which saves on a farm call from their veterinarian. Please note: not all veterinarians are comfortable giving their clients sedation. This is between you and your vet. For clients that are not comfortable giving injections, there is also a gel now available that works very well that goes under the horse's tongue and most people do not have any problems giving it to their horse. Like most medications, the gel is only available from a veterinarian and I do not provide it or offer it.
Do You Use Power Tools?
Many of the horses I work on have not have quality dental care for quite some time. Yes, this even includes horses that have been taken care of yearly by practitioners that either do not have the education or the ability to perform quality work. The only Power Unit I will use is a Dearson that is from Europe. In my opinion, it is the best quality and safest power unit available on the market. It is quiet with almost no vibration and offers precise handling and is very safe to the horse, even if the horse is unsedated. If the horse moves, there is no fear that it will continue to take off tooth and it is gentle enough for me to lay it on my skin while it is running on full speed (which I demonstrate to my clients prior to use on their horse). Yes, you read that correctly. It is gentle enough to put directly on your skin, on full power, and not cause any damage. I've found most horses actually prefer the power unit to a hand floats. I also abide by State Regulations. In Virginia, it is illegal for an Equine Dental Technician to use any power equipment without a Veterinarian present. I follow all state laws and will not act outside of my scope of practice. It is not worth risking my License.
There are other dentists out there, why should I chose you?
I have an excellent reputation for taking the time to do things right. I care about horses and keeps their comfort in mind during the entire process. This includes giving the horse breaks during procedures, which allows the horse to relax mentally and physically. I also strongly believe in education and will spend time with the owner or caretaker explaining procedures and answering all questions. I will take the time to show you what is going on in your horse's mouth and allow you to feel before and after so you know exactly what was done. I also do not nickel and dime my clients and there are never any surprises. I keep my rates affordable so you can provide your horse with the dental care they deserve without having to break the bank. This creates happy clients and happy clients are repeat clients. The majority of my clients have come by word of mouth and an extensive list of references are available from both performance barn as well as numerous well-known rescues.
I See You Are Booked Months In Advance, I Need Someone Right now
In 2017, I have been booking up literally about 3 months in advance. I will give you some tips on finding one yourself (Of course, there are wonderful practitioners who may not meet all of this criteria. This is just a guide.) First, please insure they carry full Insurance. Second, inquire if they are Certified. The International Association of Equine Dentistry and the Equine Dental Providers of America both offer an extremely rigorous testing process. If you use a practitioner that is Certified through either Association, you can count on knowing the person providing care to your horse holds the knowledge and ability to perform appropriate care. Third, is the practitioner legal to practice in your state? Many states, including Virginia, require anyone providing dental care to an equine to be Licensed through the State. Please ensure anyone who provides care to your horse is following all state requirements. Fourth, ask about Continuing Education. As with anything medical, there are new techniques being taught, research being performed, and standards of care being improved. Equine Dentistry is no different. Anyone that is practicing equine dentistry should be participating in continuing education. Some states, such as Virginia, actually mandate the minimum number of hours each year that a practicing EqDT must earn in order to continue to be certified. Lastly, don't forget to ask for references. Please don't just allow a practitioner to give you names of other horse owners. Ask for Veterinarians that are confident in the work the practitioner is performing. If you follows these steps, you should be able to find someone that meets or exceeds industry standard.