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Horses can suffer irreversible tooth damage from burns incurred during dental treatment, an award-winning research project has found.

Lynne Uttley was presented with the Eqvalan Thesis of the Year at the British Equine Event for her undergraduate study at Hartpury College into the use of electrical teeth grinding equipment. It has highlighted the need for further investigation into the damage that can be done to horses’ teeth through misuse of tools.

Lynne developed an interest in equine dentistry after spending a placement year at Edinburgh University, and realised how little is known about the subject. In her thesis, the first study of its type, she set out to determine whether teeth grinding using power tools can cause “thermaldamage” – in other words, burns.

“The kind of instruments used without coolants for teeth grinding are doing enormous damage,” she said. “What we need to know is the right temperature for grinding teeth. Working at the wrong temperature can cause 100% irreversible damage. We need to manufacture a tool with its own cooling system so that temperature doesn’t cause damage.”

Vet Karen Coumbe, who was on the panel of judges, said: “Lynne’s work will be very useful in the short-term. All five of those short-listed deserve credit and recognition for the effort they put in.”