In the United States, laws governing equine dentistry vary from state to state. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has created a table listing the laws of each state.
Different levels of supervision are required for dental work performed by non-veterinarians in most states. While some states allow non-veterinarians to perform equine dental work, additional conditions may apply, for instance, being limited to using non-motorized tools.
In the chart below, VT refers to veterinary technicians and non-veterinarian lay practitioners.
|Alabama||Teeth cleaning allowed under direct supervision, if the animal is anesthetized, then direct supervision. Assistance with surgery is permissible under immediate supervision.|
|Alaska||Delegation of tasks allowed, however, performance of surgery is prohibited. Duties performed by a veterinary technician (VT) must be those for which the VT is trained and that are compatible with the practice act. With supervision, a variety of tasks could be performed.|
|Arizona||A VT may perform the tasks delegated by a licensed veterinarian while under the direction, supervision, and control of the licensed veterinarian. Performance of surgery is prohibited.|
|Arkansas||Before engaging in the practice of equine teeth floating, an individual practitioner shall present to the board signed letters of recommendation from two (2) clients who have previously employed the individual practitioner and who bear witness to the individual practitioner’s ability to perform equine teeth floating.|
|California||Requires supervision for VT, largely at the discretion of the veterinarian, with some exceptions. Surgery is prohibited and direct supervision is required for dental extractions.|
|Colorado||Allows for the performance of duties other than diagnosis, prescription, surgery, or initiating treatment as long as the duties are performed under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian who shall be responsible for such person’s performance.|
|Connecticut||The floating of teeth in horses by persons experienced in that practice and the performance of myofascial trigger point therapy by persons experienced in that practice shall not be deemed to be the practice of veterinary medicine.|
|Delaware||Support activities under veterinary supervision, excludes surgery.|
|District of Columbia||Acts relating to maintenance of the health of or treatment of any animal performed under the immediate and direct supervision and control of a licensed veterinarian. Performance of surgery prohibited.|
|Florida||All tasks which may be delegated to a veterinary aide, nurse, laboratory technician, intern, or other employee of a licensed veterinarian shall be performed only under the “immediate supervision” of a licensed veterinarian with some exceptions.|
|Georgia||Any veterinary technician must at all times be under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian whenever practicing veterinary technology in this state. The level of supervision shall be consistent with the delegated animal health care task. Performance of surgery is prohibited.
A veterinary technician working under the direction, supervision and control of a duly licensed veterinarian may provide the following animal patient care under direct supervision: dental procedures including, but not limited to the removal of calculus, soft deposits, plaque and stains; the smoothing, filing, and polishing of teeth; or the floatation or dressing of equine teeth; dental extraction not requiring sectioning of the tooth or the resectioning of bone.
|Hawaii||Unregulated, except that only veterinarians may perform veterinary medicine. Veterinary medicine includes dental care.|
|Idaho||Veterinarians are required to diagnose and perform operative dentistry, oral surgery, and teeth extraction procedures. VTs are prohibited from diagnosis and performance of procedures that constitute operative dentistry/oral surgery.|
|Illinois||A VT shall provide veterinary service under the control, direction and supervision of a licensed veterinarian, who is responsible for the services performed by the technician. VTs shall not perform surgery.|
|Indiana||A VT may not diagnose prognose, prescribe medical or surgical treatment, or perform as a surgeon. However, the technician may perform routine procedures defined by board rules while under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian who shall be responsible for the technician’s performance.|
|Iowa||VTs must act under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian and may not perform surgery, diagnosis and have no prescriptive authority.|
|Kansas||Supervision required for any employee participating in the practice of veterinary medicine; however, a veterinarian shall not delegate diagnosis; performance of any surgical procedure; or the prescription of any drug, medicine, biologic, apparatus, application, anesthesia or other therapeutic or diagnostic substance or technique.|
|Kentucky||The services of a veterinary technologist or veterinary technician shall be limited to the performance of duties under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian except for the routine administration of drugs, vaccines, parasite control agents, and growth stimulating implants for food animals prescribed by a veterinarian and under the indirect supervision of a veterinarian where a veterinarian-client-patient relationship exists.
A veterinary technologist or veterinary technician shall not diagnose, prescribe medication or treatment, or perform surgical procedures other than castrating and dehorning of food animals.
A veterinary technologist or veterinary technician may assist a veterinarian in all duties of veterinary medicine and surgery.
|Louisiana||With proper training and under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian, laypeople and registered veterinary technicians employed by a licensed veterinarian may perform the rasping or floating of molar, premolar, and canine teeth and the removal of deciduous incisor and premolar teeth or caps.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a registered veterinary technician may perform veterinary medical assistance under the direct supervision of a veterinarian licensed to practice in this state approved by the board, except that no registered veterinary technician shall perform animal diagnosis, the prescribing of treatment or medications, or any surgical procedures.
|Maine||A VT may perform, under the supervision and direction of a licensed veterinarian, such duties as drug administration, nursing care, x-ray film exposure and processing, bandage changes, dental prophylaxis, restraint, blood and fecal collections, diagnostic laboratory procedures and other duties the supervising veterinarian or the board may prescribe by rule, consistent with this chapter, except no one but a veterinarian may diagnose, make prognoses, prescribe or initiate treatment or surgery or perform surgery.|
|Maryland||A veterinarian may not permit a technician to perform the following procedures except under direct supervision: anesthesia induction by inhalation or intravenous injection; anesthesia induction by intramuscular injection; application of casts and splints; dental extractions; and suturing of existing surgical skin incisions. VT activities require veterinary supervision.|
|Massachusetts||Under direct veterinary supervision, a VT may clean and polish teeth.|
|Michigan||A VT may perform activities under supervision of a veterinarian.|
|Minnesota||Employees of a licensed veterinarian may not perform surgery; diagnosis and prognosis; or prescribe drugs, medicines, or appliances. VT activities are allowed under veterinary supervision.|
|Mississippi||VT activities under the direction and supervision of the veterinarian who shall be responsible for the performance of the employee with diagnosis, prognosis, prescription or surgery prohibited.|
|Missouri||VT activities under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, dental prophulaxis with direct supervision.|
|Montana||Support personnel (including VTs) shall work under the supervision of a veterinarian who is responsible for the services performed by support personnel. Support personnel shall not diagnose, initiate treatment, perform surgery, prescribe medicine or prognosticate..|
|Nebraska||Direct supervision is required for the following dental procedures:
a. Removal of calculus, soft deposits, plaque, and stains;
b. Smoothing, filing, and polishing of teeth;
c. Flotation or dressing of equine teeth.
Immediate supervision is required for a dental extraction not requiring the sectioning of a tooth or the resectioning of bone.
Making a diagnosis or prognosis; prescribing any treatment, drugs, medications or appliances; performing surgery or administering Rabies vaccine is prohibited.
|Nevada||Surgery; diagnosis and prognosis of animal diseases; except as authorized by a veterinarian, prescription, administration or dispensation of drugs, medicines or appliances or any other activity which represents the practice of veterinary medicine or which requires the knowledge, skill and training of a licensed veterinarian is prohibited. Immediate supervision is required for dental extractions and gingival incisions. Immediate direct or indirect supervision is allowed for teeth cleaning.|
|New Hampshire||Not addressed.|
|New Jersey||VT activities under the supervision and direction of a licensed veterinarian in his/her practice of veterinary medicine with a prohibition on diagnosis, prescriptions, or performing surgery.|
|New Mexico||VT may provide veterinary services under the supervision and direction of the licensed veterinarian who is responsible for the performance of that technician.|
|New York||VT may provide veterinary services under the general supervision of a veterinarian.|
|North Carolina||A VT veterinary technician may assist a veterinarian in diagnosis, laboratory analysis, anesthesia and surgical procedures. All activities must be performed under the direction and supervision of a veterinarian. Neither the employee nor the veterinary technician may perform any act producing an irreversible change in the animal.|
|North Dakota||VT activities under the direction, supervision, and control of a veterinarian.|
|Ohio||Veterinary supervision for allowed activities and direct supervision for dental prophylaxis, periodontal care, and extraction not involving sectioning of teeth or resection of bone or both of these and equine dental procedures, including the floating of molars, premolars, and canine teeth; removal of deciduous teeth; and the extraction of first premolars or wolf teeth.|
|Oklahoma||Non-veterinary equine dental care providers may be certified by the Board of Veterinary Medicine, also known as a “practitioner of teeth floating.” Teeth floating includes the removal of enamel points and the smoothing, contouring, and leveling of dental arcades and incisors of equine and other farm animals. Does not include dental procedures on canines and felines. Prescription drug use for procedures allowed under certain conditions.
VT activities require supervision from a veterinarian. Prohibited VT activities include: diagnosis, prescriptions or surgery. However, a registered veterinary technician may perform dental scaling and polishing as directed by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian without the continuing physical presence of the licensed veterinarian.
|Oregon||VT activities require supervision from a veterinarian. Dental operations or procedures shall be performed only by licensed veterinarians, except for those veterinary dental procedures set out in section (3) of this rule. Section (3) allows VTs to perform preventive veterinary dental procedures including, but not limited to, the removal of calculus, soft deposits, plaque, and stains, or the smoothing, filing, or polishing of tooth surfaces shall be performed only by licensed veterinarians, certified veterinary technicians or veterinary assistants under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.|
|Pennsylvania||VT activities require direct or indirect veterinary supervision. Performing surgery; diagnosis; prognosis; providing prescriptions, including treatments, medications or appliances, or attesting to health status is prohibited.|
|Rhode Island||VT activities assisting the veterinarian are allowed under the general supervision, direction and control of a veterinarian.|
|South Carolina||VT activities are allowed under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.|
|South Dakota||VT may only work under the direction or supervision of the licensed veterinarian or veterinarians by whom he is employed.|
|Tennessee||VT activities require direct supervision by a licensed veterinarian on premises, except that an employee of the veterinarian may be permitted to float teeth without the physical presence of a licensed veterinarian as long as the employee is functioning under the supervision, control, and responsibility of the licensed veterinarian.|
|Texas||VT activities require veterinary supervision. Certain equine dental procedures may be performed by a licensed equine dental provider who is active and in good standing under the appropriate level of supervision of a veterinarian who is active and in good standing and who has established a veterinarian-client-patient relationship with the owner or other caretaker of an animal.|
|Utah||VT activities require direct veterinary supervision. The following activities are prohibited: diagnosis, prognosis, surgery or prescription of drugs, medicines, or appliances.|
|Virginia||VTs performing acts relating to maintenance of the health of or treatment of any animal require immediate and direct supervision and control of a veterinarian. In addition, the Board of Veterinary Medicine may register equine dental technicians under regulation of the Board. Permissible duties are planing or leveling of equine teeth using nonmotorized hand tools for routine dental maintenance, or planing or leveling using motorized tools, or the extraction of wolf teeth under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. No equine dental technician may administer any sedative, tranquilizer, analgesic, prescription medication, or drug.|
|Washington||VT activities require veterinary supervision. Immediate supervision is required for dental extractions. Direct supervision is required for teeth cleaning, provided an oral examination of the anesthetized patient has been conducted by the veterinarian and for floating teeth.|
|West Virginia||VTs must work under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian on the premises. A technician’s principal function is to assist the veterinarian. VTs shall not perform surgery, make diagnoses, or prescribe medications.|
|Wisconsin||Direct supervision is required for dental prophylaxis and extractions. VTs may not perform the following: diagnosis and prognosis of animal diseases and conditions; prescribing of drugs, medicines, treatments and appliances or performing surgery.|
|Wyoming||VTs may not perform the following: surgery, diagnosis and prognosis or prescription of drugs, medicines and appliances. A veterinarian delegating tasks must ensure that the activities of a supervised individual are within the scope of the orders, assignment or prescriptions of the licensee and within the capabilities of the individual.|
Updated: January 2012
Source: Staff research, AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Department
Contact: Tara Southwell, State Policy Analyst, AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Department, 847-285-6779.