Dental Care for Your Equine
Proper dental care is essential to your horse’s health, well-being, and longevity. Even if your horse does not show outward symptoms of dental problems, it’s likely that he has developed sharp points on his teeth which can interfere with his ability to chew hay and grain easily.
As horses age, it is important to maintain an even bite plane in order to ensure a level grinding surface into their later years. Otherwise, the surfaces may be worn excessively and/or unevenly, and alignment may be impossible, possibly leading to gum disease in older horses.
Among many benefits, proper equine dental care can prevent premature tooth loss, reduce impaction and colic, allow easier tooth eruption, and prevent pain during bit use and feeding.
Having your horse's teeth cared for without sedation by an unlicensed or non-veterinary provider can potentially harm your horse's health. Without anesthesia, the mouth cannot be opened correctly to evaluate all surfaces. Caudal points and hooks cannot be sufficiently reached. Without sedation, dental instruments can cause damage to the teeth and mouth if the horse shakes its head during treatment. Significant tooth, cheek, pallate and tongue damage can occur. Balancing a mouth is not able to be properly achieved, resulting in possible pain for your horse over time.
Ask your veterinarian to recommend a dental care program that is appropriate for your horse, and consult your veterinarian immediately if your horse exhibits any of these symptoms of advanced dental disease:
- Weight loss
- Head tossing
- Dropping grain
- Biting problems: stiffness, resistance, refusal to take a lead
- Soaking food before eating
- Large pieces of undigested food in manure
- Facial swelling
- Feed packing
Updated: February 11, 2019