September 23, 2008 | | Comments 0

Equine Dental Problems

Equine Dental Problems

Equine Dental Problems

Equine Dental Problems

Just like humans, horses can also suffer from dental problems. In fact, horses can experience many types of dental problems. It is important to keep your horse’s mouth and teeth in good condition to prevent dental problems.

There are quite a number of equine dental problems that could arise. Your horse could suffer from periodontal or gum disease. It may have infection of the teeth and gums as well as lose some teeth. Other problems include broken/worn out teeth, retained caps, misalignment, excessively long teeth and uneven bite planes. Sharp enamel points may develop on cheek teeth, which results in lacerations of the tongue and cheeks. Your horse may experience discomfort due to bit contact with the wolf teeth. The horse’s bridle teeth may interfere with the application or removal of the bit. And finally, hooks can also develop on the upper and lower cheek teeth.

Symptoms of Equine Dental Problems

Because there are so many kinds of dental problems your horse can have, there are also several symptoms to watch out for. Symptoms of an equine dental problem include drooling, head tossing/shaking, tongue lolling, bit chewing, chewing difficulties and sensitive stifle. You may notice your horse habitually tilting its head, being unable to eat, constantly sitting back, and constantly fighting the bit. Your horse may also lose weight, experience sore backs and become more difficult to handle.

Treatment and Prevention of Equine Dental Problems

If your horse suffers from severe dental misalignment, it may experience soreness in the jaw after floating. The temporal mandibular joint, ligaments and supportive muscles could have shifted to long periods of functioning with an unnatural pattern. The bite can be corrected, and the joint should be able to go back to a normal position in its socket, which can momentarily instigate pressure and pain to altered tissues. In this case, the vet may administer suitable doses of phenobutezol, or bute. The horse may also be supplied with ground feed until the pain is gone and the joint is stable.

Equine dental problems can very well be prevented. You should have your horse’s teeth inspected by a vet every 6 months. Keep in mind though that your horse may require dental check-ups more often, especially if it is still very young or already quite old. Moreover, dental-checkups are more crucial if you notice any severe symptoms in your horse.

Several horses need floating of teeth once a year, but this will also depend on each horse. Horses that are very young typically have 24 teeth that are deciduous. These are the first 3 premolars of every arcade and all incisors. When the horse approaches 2 years of age, caps are forced out by the new permanent teeth. Caps tend to fall off on their own, however, this could cause uneasiness when still wobbly and there may be a need for extraction. Most changes in the dental structure of a horse occur starting from 4 to 5 years of age. Therefore, dental checkups need to be done more frequently.

As horses grow older, there tends to be more room for dental problems to occur. Once a horse approaches 20 to 30 years, molar loss becomes a problem. The vet may have to float, or grind on the surface of the teeth to get rid of sharp edges and restore balance to the mouth. Careful floating will preserve enough surface area for the horse to properly chew its food and prevent thermal damage. Either a veterinarian or horse floater can perform floating on horses.

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Filed Under: Horse Health

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