Below are some signs that your horse may have a dental problem:
- Dropping feed (quidding)
- Turning head while chewing
- Large, undigested feed particles in manure
- Decreased body weight
- Behavioral issues such as chewing on the bit, bucking, or rearing
- Malodorous smell coming from the mouth
- Nasal discharge or swelling of the face
Horses have a unique dental structure in that they have evolved as grazing herbivores. Like humans, horses have two sets of teeth, deciduous (baby teeth) and permanent teeth. Adult horses have between 36-44 teeth. Routine dental work is essential to your horse’s overall health. There are a variety of dental conditions and dieases that occur within the horse population. Once the tooth structure has been destroyed, there is little that can be done fo the tooth. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment of feed pockets and diseased teeth are very important.
A thorough dental exam begins with a general health exam. Dr. Jack or Dr. Greenfield will look at the overall body condition of the horse and listen for any heart abnormalities. Next, the horse will be sedated. Once the horse is sedated, a dental speculum will be placed within the horse’s mouth to visualize the dental arcade. Once a dental exam is performed, power tools will be used to reduce any sharp points and abnormalities within the mouth. If wolf teeth are present, the veterinarian will extract them at this point. Once the floatation and extractions are complete, further follow-up will be discussed if necessary such as follow-up exams or nutritional recommendations.
Having regular dental exams and dental work performed by your veterinarian will limit the number of problems your horse will experience as he or she ages. Additionally, when your horse can chew comfortably and appropriately, feed utilization will improve and life expectancy increases.