One of the most important aspects of your horse’s overall good health is good dental health. Horses teeth are different than humans and never stop growing. As the teeth wear and chew they can develop sharp points and cause discomfort. Your horse’s teeth and mouth should be examined at least once a year. This allows problems to be identified quickly and to keep your horse free of dental pain or discomfort.
Fenton River Veterinary Hospital offers various equine dental procedures on-farm, including:
- Dental exams
- Teeth floating
Our veterinarians will perform a dental exam on your horse during a regular wellness exam. If you suspect your horse of having teeth or mouth issues, call us to schedule a dental exam for your horse.
Dental “floating” means removing and/or repairing any irregularities that may have developed to make it easier for your horse to chew his food. Horses have teeth that are specially adapted to chew grass for long lengths of time. A horse’s teeth continue to erupt for most of its life; and therefore, the teeth need to be worn down to prevent them from overgrowing. The chewing action results in the upper and lower teeth grinding against each other and this action will wear down the teeth keeping the crown of the tooth (the bit above the gum line) at the correct height. If the horse does not chew for long enough, then the teeth may not be worn down enough. This will result in the edges of teeth becoming sharp and, in some cases, overgrowth of the crowns.
Signs of Equine Dental Disease
- Reluctance to eat or not eating at all
- Dropping food while eating
- Weight loss
- Weight loss followed by no weight gain when additional food is added
- Undigested grain in the feces
- Nasal discharge or bleeding
- Head shaking or tossing
- Head shyness
- Bad breath or foul smell from the nose
- Feed packing in the cheeks
- Facial or jaw tenderness and/or swelling
- Foamy, frothy mouth and excessive salivation
- Colic symptoms and impactions of the throat (choke)
- Problems when inserting the bit or spitting the bit out
- Chewing at or on the bit while being ridden
- Sometimes horses may fracture (break) a tooth or can develop other diseases that leave extraction as the only treatment option. Fenton River Veterinary Hospital provides on-farm tooth extraction for most of these conditions. We will utilize dental radiographs to allow a complete diagnosis prior to extraction. At the time of extraction, your horse will be given sedation and local anesthesia to prevent pain. If your horse needs an extraction, please call us so we can help answer any of your questions.