When should Equine Dental Care begin?
Foals should have their mouths examined soon after birth. This exam
will allow for any problems, possibly congenital, to be dealt with and
noted for future dental care. When the foal is a yearling it can
receive its first float and wolf teeth can be removed if present.
Sedation for wolf tooth removal is usually needed. Horses under the age
of 10 should be examined and floated twice a year because at these ages
there are a lot of changes occuring in the mouth. After the age of 10
years old, once a year is sufficient for dental maintenance on most
What are the signs that a horse needs dental attention?
The most obvious sign of a dental problem is a change in chewing
habits. Often the horse will chew with an open mouth allowing food to
fall out. If this chewing pattern continues it can become a habit.
Another sign is when the horse spits out balls of hay or grass called
"quids". Horses will pack food around sharp teeth to protect their
cheeks the way kids put wax on their braces. These quids can lead to
colic, choke and gingavitis. Some horses will refuse to eat and lose
weight. Weight loss is also due to improper digestion since the food is
not completely masticated. Performance horses will become resistant and
may start to toss their heads.
What are wolf teeth & why are they removed?
Wolf teeth are vestigial teeth that often lie where the bit sits in the
mouth. They are small teeth that can cause pain when the bit hits
against them. The horse is usually fully recovered from the extractions
four days after the procedure. It is advisable to remove them before
the horse is put into training.
Why do the molars get sharp edges and require floating?
The lower jaw lies inside of the upper jaw in an horse's mouth. Since
horses chew in a circular motion, they can get a shear mouth. The
outside edge of the upper's become sharp and the inside edge of the
lower's develop a sharp edge. Irregularities in chewing patterns and
tooth density can cause abnormal wear in molars.
Why do the incisors need to be floated occasionally?
The incisors often become overlong or wear unevenly causing reduced
molar contact. The results are dropping feed and soreness of the jaw.
Riders demanding flexion of the poll often feel resistance when there
is pain in the jaw. TMJ syndrome is usually present in horses who are
left with out treatment. The correctional procedure is simple and the
horse can be ridden the next day in most cases.