What are hand tools?

Hand Tools also known as Hand Floats are used in the routine dentistry of horses. Typically, a horse would be seen annually for a routine float/check. However, if the horse is eating hard food or has abnormalities in the mouth, routine dental checks will need to be completed more regularly.

A Hand Float consists of a handle attached to a metal shaft and a file at the end. The shaft of the hand float may be straight, however many are bent to various degrees to allow access to different parts of the horses mouths. (Include pictures of tools?)

The founding members of the EDAA would make their own hand tools to suit their personal needs. Now there are equine dental tool specific companies which manufacture hand tools and distribute world wide. The files we use have also changed over time. The original files were gritted metal files. We now use files made from tungsten carbide and synthetic diamond.

Why we use hand tools

Hand tools have been used for a long time, they are safe and with the correct training are very effective at removing sharp enamel points. They can however be difficult to learn, which takes time, proper supervision, and many horses to practice/work on before you can be deemed competent with their use.

EDAA members undergo rigorous training and assessment throughout their studies- all students use hand tools daily. Before successful completion of the course students must have completed 200+ days in the field working under the supervision of a qualified EDAA member. This ensures that students are competent in the use of hand tools. Due to the extensive training in hand tools, many members believe they can achieve greater accuracy and precision in the final finish.

As Equine Dental Technicians we are often asked why we prefer to use hand tools instead of motorized tools.

There are many reasons for this including:

  • Effectively remove specific sources of pain
  • Can be used without the use of sedation
  • Allow the horse to resume normal activities immediately
  • Don’t generate heat on the horses teeth
  • Compact or less bulky than other tools used

As an Association, the EDAA believe and know that it is possible to provide routine dental care without the use of sedation. The benefits for treating horses without the use of sedation include no risk to the horse from adverse effects of sedation. By not using sedation we also save time and money for the client too. When the horse is not sedated, we find that the slimline hand floats are less bulky and therefore easier to reach parts of the mouth without impacting the horse. When the horse has been treated by a skilled dental technician the technician can teach the horse to relax and in some cases even enjoy its routine dental float.

Fun fact – Equine dentistry has been practiced for over 3000 years making it one of the oldest areas of equine health.