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New Laws and Regulations Governing the Practice of Equine Dentistry inVirginia

Livestock Update, February 2008

Dr. Scott Pleasant, Equine Veterinary Extension Specialist, VA Tech

In 2007 there were changes in the laws and regulations governing the practice of equine dentistry in the state of Virginia.  These changes were created to protect horses and horse owners.

What changed?
Legislation amending the Code of Virginia, effective July 1, 2007, officially recognized equine dental technicians and defined the scope of their practice (until this time, Virginia law stated that only licensed veterinarians could perform equine dentistry).  The amendment also required the registration of equine dental technicians and mandated the Board of Veterinary Medicine to promulgate regulations setting the criteria for their registration.  Those regulations became effective November 29, 2007, and a registry for equine dental technicians is now in place.

*Virginia law now dictates that only licensed veterinarians or registered equine dental technicians can perform equine dental work in the state of Virginia.

What is an equine dental technician?
An equine dental technician is anyone other than a licensed veterinarian that performs equine dental work. It is now necessary for an equine dental technician to submit proof of appropriate training and experience in order to become registered, and then legally perform equine dentistry Virginia.  The Virginia State Board of Veterinary Medicine, under the Department of Health Professions, is responsible for registering and regulating equine dental technicians.

What exactly can an equine dental technician do in Virginia?
A registered equine dental technician may hand float unsedated horses independently.  They may extract unrooted teeth (deciduous caps and geriatric molars that no longer have roots).  They may do extractions of rooted teeth (including wolf teeth) and use motorized dental tools only under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.  Equine dental technicians may not make medical diagnoses.  Equine dental technicians may not prescribe or administer medications, including sedation or tranquilization, antibiotics, and pain medications.

What is the veterinarian’s role?
Your veterinarian is able to either fully care for your horses teeth or to collaborate with a registered equine dental technician.  If you choose an equine dental technician and your horse requires sedation/tranquilization for dental work, your veterinarian and the equine dental technician will have to collaborate to do the work.  Collaboration is also needed for invasive procedures that require pain control, or in cases with infection or underlying illness.

*It is now illegal for veterinarians to collaborate with an unregistered equine dental technician.

How do I know if an equine dental technician is registered?
Ask to see proof of registration, or go to the State Board of Veterinary Medicine web site and check ( and check for yourself.  If you cannot find it on the web, you may call the board at (804) 367-4497 or (804) 367-4468.


What do I tell an unregistered equine dental technician?
Suggest to them that they contact the Department of Health Professions or the Virginia Equine Dental Technician’s Association for information on how to get registered.  You should NOT allow an unregistered equine dental technician to work on your horse, since working with an unregistered equine dental technician is illegal.

For more information:
Board of Veterinary Medicine:
Virginia Association of Equine Practitioners:
Melinda Freckleton, DVM, VAEP,, 703-754-3309
Virginia Equine Dental Technicians Association: Robin Bickel 540-937-9856

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