New specialty for equine dentistry a go

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Equine dentistry has become one of the newest veterinary specialties to be recognized by the AVMA.

Veterinarian examining a horse's teethAt its April meeting, the AVMA Executive Board approved a petition from the equine dentistry organizing committee to receive provisional recognition as a specialty within the American Veterinary Dental College. Prospective members may now become diplomates after fulfilling the requirements.

Representatives of the proposed specialty initially submitted a letter of intent to the AVMA’s American Board of Veterinary Specialties in January 2012. Near the end of 2012, the group submitted a petition for recognition to the ABVS Committee on the Development of New Specialties, and the petition was opened for public comment. In September 2013, the equine dentistry group submitted a full petition and response to public comments to the ABVS for consideration. At its February meeting, the ABVS approved a motion to recommend provisional recognition of Equine Dentistry within the AVDC to the AVMA Executive Board.

Dr. Ed Murphey, assistant director of the AVMA Education and Research Division, said one of the criteria for recognition as a new specialty is whether the field represents a distinct facet of veterinary medicine and is substantiated by a sizeable volume of scientific evidence. Equine dentistry met that threshold not only because of the anatomic differences between horses and other animals but also because of the number of continuing education opportunities, book chapters, published papers, and courses offered at veterinary colleges in this area, he said.

Dr. Kenneth Bartels, the AVMA House Advisory Committee chair, added that the new specialty could be a benefit for states dealing with scope-of-practice issues in the area of equine dentistry. Dr. Bartels, who’s from Oklahoma, can attest to the struggle between the Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and Oklahoma Farm Bureau five years ago over whether laypersons could float teeth, among other things.

“We had difficult advocacy issues in Oklahoma. Having this specialty could be a benefit and show a state legislature this is, indeed, taken seriously by veterinary medicine and the veterinary colleges, and so, I’m in support of it,” Dr. Bartels said.

Related JAVMA content:

Comments invited on proposed equine dental specialty (March 15, 2013)

Reconciling scope-of-practice disputes (March 15, 2011)