Horses are grazing animals and have teeth that are adapted for that purpose. The front teeth, or incisors, function to shear off forage. The cheek teeth, including the molars and premolars with their wide, flat, graveled surfaces, easily grind the feed to a mash before it is swallowed. In nature, when horses are out on pasture they graze almost continuously and pick up dirt and grit in the process. This, plus the silicate in grass, wears down the teeth. Stabled horses, however, may not give their teeth the same workout as they are fed on a schedule and their diet includes processed hays and grains. Softer feed requires less chewing. This may allow the horse’s teeth to become excessively long or to wear unevenly. Adult teeth erupt throughout life and are worn down by chewing. The horse’s lower teeth are closer together than the upper teeth and the sideways motion of chewing causes sharp points to develop on the outside edge of the upper teeth and the inside edge of the lower teeth. Of importance is the fact that horses today are living longer than ever before, certainly a lot longer than in the wild in nature. This sets up the geriatric horse for even more dental anomalies.
Horses with dental problems may show obvious signs, such as pain or irritation, or the dropping of feed, or they may show no noticeable signs at all. Some horses simply adapt to their discomfort. For this reason, periodic dental examinations are essential. Dental problems may include dropping feed, difficulty chewing, excessive salivation, loss of body condition, head tilting, fighting the bit, resisting the bridle, poor performance, mouth odor, or nasal discharge.
An oral exam and routine dental care will result in a healthier and more comfortable horse. We use power floating with sedation to provide gentle comprehensive dental care.