Equine Dentist: Career and Salary Facts

Equine dentistry is a focus area within veterinary medicine that involves the oral health of horses. Keep reading to learn more about the job duties, education, licensing and salary of an equine dentist. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is Equine Dentistry?

Just as with humans, dental heath in horses relates to overall health, but unlike humans, horses' teeth grow continuously throughout their lives. Veterinarians practice equine dentistry to detect disease and combat chewing problems created by domestication. Equine dentists conduct dental exams and perform oral surgery on horses of all ages.

What Education Do I Need?

To work as an equine dentist, you'll need a degree in veterinary medicine. To gain acceptance into an accredited veterinary school, you'll need either a bachelor's degree or 45-90 semester hours of preveterinary undergraduate-level courses. You'll also need to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) or Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Veterinary school typically is four years in duration and includes studies in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and pathology, as well as surgery and histology. Your program also might cover equine dentistry topics, such as mastication, oral cavity structures, equine restraint and teeth floating techniques. In your fourth year, you'll usually complete clinical rotations, which could include hands-on training in equine dental case management. Upon graduation, you'll receive a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).

How Do I Get Licensed?

To work as a veterinarian, you'll need to obtain a license in the state where you want to practice. The licensure process varies, so you should check with your state veterinary board for specific licensing requirements. At minimum, you'll need to earn your DVM and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. Some states also require a clinical examination and/or an exam covering state laws and regulations. To become a board-certified equine dentist, you'll need to complete a 3- to 4-year residency program in an American Veterinary Medical Association-recognized dentistry program.

How Much Could I Earn?

Most veterinarians start their own practices or work as employees in established group practices. A 2011 survey by the American Medical Veterinary Association found that more than 20% of veterinary medical school graduates earned between $27,000 and $30,999 in their first year of full-time employment (www.avma.org). Approximately four percent of these graduates earned less than $23,000 annually, while approximately three percent made $91,000 or more.

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