The Evolution of Equids and Dental Work

The modern horse’s dentition results from millions of years of evolution in response to changing food sources and climates. Likewise, how veterinarians treat today’s equine teeth must evolve and improve constantly.

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The Evolution of Equids and Dental Work
Veterinary understanding of equine teeth continues to evolve, as well, and dental care should be performed by a licensed veterinarian and based on scientifically proven protocols and with an in-depth understanding of dental anatomy and pathology. | Photo: Stephanie L. Church/The Horse

The modern horse’s dentition and the closely related digestive system result from millions of years of equid evolution in response to changing food sources and climates. Likewise, how today’s veterinarians treat those teeth must evolve and improve constantly, said Padraic “Paddy” Martin Dixon, MVB, PhD, FRCVS, Dipl. EVCD (Equine).

Dixon presented “The Evolution of Horses and the Evolution of Equine Dentistry” as the 2017 installment of the Frank J. Milne State-of-the-Art Lecture at the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Convention, held Nov. 17-21 in San Antonio, Texas. The Milne lecture is a three-hour in-depth presentation focused on innovations in equine veterinary specialties.

Originally from Ireland, Dixon is a professor of equine surgery at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, in Scotland, where his research includes equine dental and upper airway disorders. In his AAEP lecture he covered equid evolution; dental tissues; equine domestication and early, postmodern, and contemporary dentistry; and dental disorders and disease

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Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

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