The Oklahoma House of Representatives has approved a bill that allows equine dentists – also known as horse teeth floaters – to practice in the state without facing criminal charges and without veterinary supervision. House Bill 3202, the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act, is expected to go to Gov. Brad Henry next week.
On April 8, the House voted 58-37 in favor of Senate amendments to H.B. 3202 that allow trained husbandry practitioners to perform teeth floating. The practice, as provided by a nonveterinary equine dental care provider, means the removal of enamel points and the smoothing, contouring and leveling of dental arcades and incisors of equine and other farm animals, the bill states. It excludes dental work on canines and felines.
If signed into law, H.B. 3202, authored by Rep. Don Armes (R-Faxon), will require the Oklahoma Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to license any practitioner who provides proof of either 80 hours of hands-on training in horse teeth floating at a recognized dentistry school, or certification by the International Association of Equine Dentistry or similar private certification organization. These individuals must pay a certificate fee of $200 and have four hours of continued education to renew certification.
In addition, the bill allows floaters to pick up widely prescribed sedatives only from veterinarians and only when horse owners order them, and does not allow floaters to administer sedatives. If the use of prescription drugs is necessary in the dental procedure, the owner or equine dentist must buy them from a veterinarian, the bill states.
Horses’ teeth grow continuously and require floating once a year to keep sharp edges from damaging gums. The bill removes the practice of equine dentistry from a veterinary procedure to an animal husbandry act.
Complaints related to any teeth floater would go to the state Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department.