INTRODUCTION TO EQUINE DENTISTRY
Domestic horses are living longer, better quality lives and there is no disputing that the advancements in equine dentistry are playing a large role. The teeth of horses erupt continuously throughout their lives at a rate of 2-3mm/day. These teeth are designed to be worn down evenly with the almost continuous grazing of abrasive forages found by the non-domestic horse. Ideally, there would be a balance between the eruption rate of the teeth and the rate they are worn down through eating. However, due to several changes brought about by our domestication of the horse and their use, there is a need for us to address their mouths with appropriate dentistry. Sharp enamel points are created from teeth not being worn down as quickly; also, tack and different riding gear change the demands we have on the horse’s mouth. Our horses are living longer resulting in an insufficient amount of tooth remaining.
The art of equine dentistry “floating” has dramatically evolved in the last few decades. Not long ago, floating by hand was our only option to smooth enamel points and attempt to correct mal-occlusions. With the advent of power dentistry, the equine veterinarian has the ability to effectively, safely and efficiently address almost all issues in the equine oral cavity.
What can you expect with power dentistry?
First, your veterinarian will sedate your horse. This is important for your horse’s comfort and to facilitate the procedure. The sedative drugs used will keep your horse standing but may make him “wobbly”. The drugs used are very safe and rarely cause adverse side-effects.
Second, the oral cavity will be rinsed and a metal mouth speculum will be placed in your horse’s mouth. This allows the veterinarian to address all aspects of the oral cavity and it will also give you a first-hand look at the processes occurring in your mount’s mouth! Power tools will then be utilized to effectively smooth sharp enamel ridges, hooks, ramps and correct any mal-occlusion’s that may be occurring.
How do I know my horse needs this done?
I recommend that your horse has his/her teeth checked twice a year when your veterinarian arrives to administer the bi-annual vaccinations. Most horses should have dentistry performed (floated) once a year, while some horses with severe dental issues may need to have their teeth addressed more frequently. Signs that your horse should have his teeth checked include, weight loss, dropping of feed from mouth while eating, tossing of head with bit in mouth, resistance to the bit, and mouth odor. Proper dentistry will help your horse to live longer, maintain weight and be a more pleasurable ride!
Please contact Dr. Stephanie Hobbs 803-517-8785 for more information.