Equine Dental Care: Keeping Your Horse’s Teeth Healthy
Dental care for horses differs significantly from that of humans or even cats and dogs. Due to their vegetarian diet and manner of eating, a horse’s teeth work more like a gristmill, constantly grinding and mashing down their food. The horse’s teeth are therefore designed to keep growing as an adaptation to the manner in which they eat.
Horses need an annual dental checkups. If the oral exam reveals unevenness or sharp points, the horse will need to have his teeth floated to maintain a healthy bite, and so that their food is evenly ground for healthy swallowing and digestion. Newborn foals require their gums, teeth, palate and tongue examined in order to assess possible congenital and bite issues.
What You Need to Know about Horse Dental Care
As a horse owner, it is important to know what kinds of dental trouble signs to look for so that your horse is able to eat and work comfortably. If your he seems to be reluctant to eat, or show any signs of pain while eating, this may be a sign that his teeth have developed sharp points or hooks that are poking the insides of the cheeks. The occlusal (grinding) surfaces that do the grinding will usually be worn down normally, but most horses do not have completely even grinding/bite patterns, so hooks and points can develop and need to be filed down (floated) regularly.
If your horse seems to drop a lot of food while eating, the molars may not be meeting up properly, allowing food to escape. If he chokes or gags on food, this can also be a sign that the teeth are not grinding the food down enough and that there is a problem that requires horse dentistry.
A combination of bad breath and difficulty eating can signal that your horse may be suffering from periodontal disease, an infection, or tooth decay.
During an equine dental checkup, Dr. Harris will sedate your horse in order to perform a thorough oral exam and float. A full mouth speculum will be used to keep the his mouth open so that each tooth, the gums, tongue and all of the mouth’s tissues can be inspected for inflammation, odors, lesions, and other abnormalities. Our equipment is portable, so if you prefer, we can offer the procedure at the convenience of your location on the farm/ranch.
Dental health is very important for good horse health and wellness. If you would like your horse's teeth checked, please call today for an appointment.