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Iron Will

Mobile Veterinary Services

Equine Dentistry

Education | Equine Dentistry

Equine dentistry has evolved from very rudimentary rasping of the horses molars in an often unsedated and uncooperative patient to a sophisticated science of dental equilibration under sedation with high-tech tools and the technology for advanced procedures such as filling cavities and performing root canals.

 

At Iron Will Mobile Veterinary Services, we recommend that every horse have a brief oral examination twice a year. We perform brief oral examinations free of charge as part of the service of vaccinating your horses. A brief examination involves gently grasping the tongue and pulling it to the side so the molars, or cheek teeth, can be visualized. This is not a thorough oral examination, but rather allows us a quick opportunity to assess the condition of the cheek teeth and to advise a timetable for dental intervention for any noted problems.

 

Generally, there are two reasons to have dental equilibration or floating on your horse:

   1) Performance/comfort reasons

   2) Corrective reasons.

The molars, or cheek teeth, of horses are constantly being used to grind forages and grains and unlike human teeth, they wear down the surface of their teeth day by day. Since horses teeth are “in constant wear,” they tend to continually develop sharp enamel points. Some horses 'wear' their teeth better than others.

 

       • Loss of body condition

       • Weight loss

       • Quidding (forming a bolus of food, then dropping it)

       • Head held to one side

       • Difficult & slow feeding (stop/start chewing; reluctance to drink cold water

       • Excessive salivation

       • Malodorous breath

       • Facial or mandibular swelling (facial asymmetry)

       • Nasal discharge

       • Avoids painful chewing (may result in choke)

       • Lacerations & ulcers on side of tongue & cheek

       • Head tossing

       • Whole grain in feces

 

In dealing with corrective dentistry, we are usually more concerned with the alignment of the incisors and molars (cheek teeth). Problems that are commonly seen are wavemouth, hooks or ramps, and incisor malalignments, and poor molar occlusion. These conditions can all be present in horses that appear to be in good body condition, and that eat and chew their food normally. These conditions can often be managed successfully if found early enough, however, if these conditions become severe enough to cause mastication problems and weight loss, they are often beyond repair and become simply a management nightmare.

 

We perform performance and corrective dentistry under sedation with the horse standing and supported in a dental halter or on a dental head stand. An oral speculum positioned in the horse's mouth to enable us to see each and every tooth and to work unobstructed by the horses chewing movements. A thorough oral examination cannot be performed without having the mouth open. This also gives us an excellent opportunity to educate owners on the importance of dental care in horses by having them see and maybe even feel inside the horse's mouth.

 

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