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Seventh-grade students learn finer points of equine dental care

Dental lesson - horse style

Mar 16, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

It is not every day you get your teeth cleaned standing outside with a class of middle school students observing. For Tori the horse, the procedure was nothing but ordinary as she allowed Riverton Middle School students to observe the detailed process of equine teeth cleaning March 8 in the parking lot of the school.

Stock Doc veterinarian Brandi Waheed demonstrated the steps involved in dental procedures for horses to the Science Olympiad class, a class made up of students selected to learn tips on different subjects first-hand, including veterinary medicine.

Dr. Waheed's husband, Aziz Waheed, teaches the class. He said many of the students have a fervent desire to learn about involving animals.

"I try to bring in a lot of guest speakers to allow the kids to learn from seeing hands-on techniques which really engages them and helps them to learn," Waheed said.

Dr. Waheed assured the students that the horse had been sedated and invited anyone interested to put on a pair of gloves and stick a hand in Tori's mouth as well as listen to her heartbeat.

Students asked questions during the cleaning session and many wanted to know when a horse starts losing its teeth.

"Typically after four years they will begin to lose their teeth and you can tell the age of a horse by the wear of the teeth," Waheed said.

Seventh-grader Devin Martinez excitedly volunteered to be the first student to stick his hand in the horse's mouth.

"The inside felt like I was rubbing up against a chicken coop and kind of like concrete. Also, her tongue kept going up and down, which was kind of weird," Martinez said.

He has six horses at his house but said he had never had the opportunity to see a teeth cleaning.

Dr. Waheed stressed the importance of dental care with horses and feels good mouth hygiene will help a horse live much longer.

"It used to be where a horse would live for 20 years or so, but now with the proper dental care a horse can sometimes live to be 30 or 40 years old. If you start them early you will really see a difference," Waheed said.

Seventh-grader Amanda Johnston hopes to become a vet someday and was intrigued with the information she was learning about Tori from Dr. Waheed.

"I want the same job as Dr. Waheed when I grow up. I love horses, and I think it is really neat that they are a lot like us and need dental care -- but they get to have power tools go in their mouths, which always makes things exciting," Johnston said.

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