Horse dentist makes house calls

More horse owners paying to have dentist see animals

SOUTHWEST RANCHES, Fla. – Not many dentists make house calls, but Julian Ocampo isn't your average dentist.

Ocampo is a horse dentist, a fast growing profession in the equine industry.

"A while ago, I think it was more of a novelty," said horse trainer Chris Bennings. "You would do it for expensive horses, but people are starting to realize you need to do it with every horse."

"We have got sharp edges growing over the sides of the top molars. That is what is causing pressure on the jaw," said Ocampo as he worked.

Human and horse dentistry are similar, beginning with rinsing and spitting.

"There is going to be grass and grain inside the mouth," said Ocampo.

Ocampo has been working as a horse dentist for seven years. He said technology has helped horses receive better dental care.

Horse dentists use a specialized spreader and head stand to easily access the teeth.

"This is a grinder that has a rotor disc and the blade is made of diamond chips," said Ocampo.

It can cost between $100 and $200 per horse to visit the equine dentist, but owners say it's worth every penny.

"Absolutely. We see it 100 fold come back. The training is easier. They process their food better and they waste a lot less and they just seem much happier," said Bennings.

Like people, horses only need a dental visit every six months to a year. But the job doesn't come without some biting criticism from the patient.

"Every had a horse chomp down when your hand is up in their mouth?" asked Local 10's Todd Tongen.

"Only once and he bit me pretty hard but it is part of the job," answered Ocampo.

Better digestion means keeling weight on a healthier horse. It also means a horse is more comfortable with a bit in its mouth, making for a smoother ride.