Equine Dental Care
We demand more from our horses today, and we often select them without regard for their mouth.
Routine dental care is essential to horses’ health. We have modified their diet and changed their eating pattern tremendously. Because of this, teeth can cause a huge problem. We demand more from our horses today, and we often select them without regard for their mouth. Horses use their incisors to shear off grasses and their cheek teeth to grind the food in preparation for the stomach. Horses have two sets of teeth in their lifetime. They get their incisors and first cheek teeth anywhere from birth to eight months. By age five, they have a full set of teeth. An adult male has forty permanent teeth. An adult mare may have thirty-six to forty permanent teeth. There are variations among horses in eruption times, just like in humans.
Problems: Sharp points, retained caps, wolf teeth, hooks, canines, broken teeth, broken skeletal structures, uneven bite planes, excess wear, infection, poor apposition, and periodontal disease are all potential issues dealing with teeth.
Recognizing problems: Some problems are easier to recognize than others. Losing feed from the mouth while eating, difficulty chewing, excessive salivation, poor body condition, long stems in the manure, head toss, fighting the bit, decrease performance, bad breath, blood in the feed pan, nasal discharge, and facial swelling are all indicators of a problem.
Exams: Routine exams cannot be over-emphasized. Two and three year-olds going into training should be routinely examined at least every 6 months. Their performance ability could be significantly decreased in response to a problem going on in their mouth. Older animals that have had excellent dental care could potentially go on a yearly check.