Horse’s teeth begin to erupt in the first few days after birth and continue to erupt throughout the horse’s life. Dental problems can occur at any age from problems with temporary (baby) teeth not shedding, to cavities and cracked cheek teeth in adult life.

It is essential therefore that your horse’s mouth & teeth are examined on a regular basis, ideally every 6-12 months depending on their age, use and whether there are any existing dental problems. The back of a horse’s mouth is difficult to examine so in order to perform a detailed examination a gag is required to improve accessibility. Some horses tolerate this procedure well but it is not uncommon that sedation is required.

Hall Place Equine has a good working relationship with the local qualified Equine Dental Technicians (Edt’s) but PLEASE BE AWARE that the legislation around Edt’s is under rigorous review. It is advised by our governing body, the Royal college of veterinary surgeons, that hand floating (tooth rasping) is the only dental procedure that can be carried out by an unqualified Edt – ONLY VETERINARY SURGEONS OR QUALIFIED EQUINE DENTAL TECHNICIANS can perform dental techniques involving power tools (power floating). Any surgical procedure where sensitive tissue (i.e. gums) are involved is deemed as AN ACT OF VETERINARY SURGERY and so can ONLY be performed by a veterinary surgeon. (for example, the removal of this page teeth)

For this reason, Hall Place Equine can only sedate horses under these recommendations. To avoid any confusion please check whether your Edt has undergone in depth training and passed the required qualifications to perform power floating by checking on www.beva.org.uk or www.baedt.com. Under NO circumstance should intravenous sedation be administered to your horse by anyone but a qualified veterinary surgeon. If you have any queries regarding EDT qualification, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01628 622 223.

The commonest dental condition that needs regular management is caused by the horse’s natural anatomy. The horse’s upper jaw is wider than his lower jaw so as the surfaces of the teeth are worn naturally whilst grinding food over time, the teeth are worn unevenly resulting in the cheek teeth developing very sharp edges and hooks on the front and back cheek teeth. Left unchecked, these can lead to lacerations and ulcers in the adjacent mucosa of the mouth leaving the horse in a lot of discomfort when eating.

dentistry-1Other dental problems frequently seen include:

  • Dental cavities- There have been huge advances in equine dentistry over the last few years. Horse’s with tooth decay leading to dental cavities can now have “fillings” just as we do!
  • Fractured or broken teeth is a reasonably common cause of dental pain. Removal of a cheek tooth can be quite challenging depending on which tooth is affected and the age of the horse. In theory it is much easier to remove a tooth from an older horse than a youngster as the tooth root is shorter. Removal of cheek teeth is a very time consuming and painful procedure which requires sedation and nerve blocks to minimise pain and distress.
  • Diastemas and tooth root infections are common conditions – food gets packed when there are gaps (Diastemas) between teeth, this in turn can lead to a tooth root infection which requires aggressive treatment and may even require removal of the tooth.

HOW CAN YOU TELL WHEN YOUR HORSE HAS DENTAL PAIN?

Everyone as some point experiences the terrible pain that is “toothache”. We can only assume that horses suffer a similar pain leading to a variety of clinical signs which could indicate a dental problem:

  • Drooling, dropping clumps of unchewed hay (quidding) or frustration when given his hard feed.
  • Presence of a Head tilt or head shaking when ridden, difficulty in turning or inconsistent contact. Bad behaviour such as rearing or backing up can also be attributed to dental pain.
  • Facial swelling or a bad odour coming from the horse’s mouth and/or nostrils
  • Loss of body condition, anorexia or long pieces of forage in droppings (indicates poor chewing)

If you have any queries regarding your horse’s teeth or require more information, please call the clinic on 01628 622 223