Equine Dental Care
Dentistry is a mainstay to your horse’s health, longevity and ultimate performance. The Elkhorn Veterinary Clinic veterinarians provide excellent dental care. Horse teeth are continually erupting while being worn down through chewing. The horse’s lower jaw is narrower than the upper jaw with the bottom teeth meeting to the inside of the upper teeth. This predisposes the teeth to uneven wear as the horse chews causing sharp edges, teeth of varying height and tooth and jaw misalignment.
Horses, like us, can suffer from periodontal disease, and fractured, missing, and loose teeth. Routine dental exams identify these and other problems and allow your veterinarian to treat your horse in a timely manner.
Floating Your Horse's Teeth
Cheek teeth are prone to wearing down at an angle, resulting in sharp points that can injure the mouth and cause infection. These teeth must be filed down to prevent painful cheek ulcerations. This filing is known as floating.
Maloccluded and/or missing teeth can create uneven wear, and appropriate floating is necessary to protect the opposing teeth.
Schedule a Dental Exam for Your Horse
Yearly exams and floating procedures are critical to your horse’s health and hardiness. We recommend what the AAEP recommends: Oral exams performed at birth and then twice yearly from 3 months to 5 years and annually thereafter.
Pre-existing conditions, the onset of signs of dental disease or a change in your horse's attitude may warrant more frequent exams.
What We Look for in the Oral Exam
Before we recommend having your horse’s teeth floated, we need to perform an oral exam. During the exam, our veterinarians look for:
- Abscesses or mouth ulcers
- Fractured teeth
- Malocclusion (a misaligned bite)
- Sharp “hooks” on the front and back cheek teeth (due to the teeth wearing at an angle over time)
- Step mouth – a condition in which an upper tooth grows too long due to a missing opposing lower tooth
- Wave mouth – similar to step mouth, but affecting multiple teeth
- Periodontal disease
- Face/TMJ/nasal discharge
Diagnosing Hidden Problems
We use digital X-ray to aid in diagnosing issues hidden below your horse’s gum line, including loose and/or fractured teeth. Fractured teeth can result in painful exposed pulp cavities, tooth root abscesses, and secondary sinus infections. If we discover any of these problems, an extraction is likely.
Signs Your Horse Needs Dental Care
The most common signs that your horse needs a dental checkup include:
- Chewing or spitting out their feed
- Weight loss
- Chewing on one side of the mouth only
- Making noises while chewing
- Resistance to the bit
- Have abnormally long hay fibers in their manure, which indicates a lack of proper chewing
- Foul odor from the mouth or nostrils and/or traces of blood from the mouth
- Nasal discharge or swelling of the face, jaw, or mouth tissues
Please call (262) 723-2644 if you notice any of these problems. Without treatment, your horse's condition can worsen and lead to other serious health problems.