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Equine Dental Health

Signs Come Straight from the Horses' Mouth: A healthy mouth means so much to the overall health of your horse. From proper nutrition, to smooth riding, to response at the bit, the dental health of your horse can affect everyday activities.

Conditions that may signal a dental problem

  • Head Tilt
  • Head Tossing
  • Head Shaking
  • Sitting Back
  • Fighting the bit
  • Weight Loss
  • Sore Backs
  • Drooling
  • Sensitive Stifle
  • Head Shy
  • Difficulty Chewing
  • Inability to Eat
  • Tongue Lolling
  • Big Chewing
  • Difficult to Handle When Riding

The First Step in Dental Health: The first step in excellent dental care for your horse is a complete dental exam.

Our Recommendations:

  • Less than 1 year old ~ Foals should be examined for normal baby and adult teeth eruption
  • 4-12 years ~ Yearly dental exams with floating as needed allow for careful monitoring of potential disease progression
  • 12+ year ~ Dental exams and floatation every 6 months help to maintain a healthy mouth through geriatric years

Floating Teeth...What's Involved?

In order to adequately examine and work on your horse's teetch, teh veterinarian wil first sedate the horse and then place a speculum between the teeth.  THis is held in place with straps like a headstall and allows the vet to ratchet open the horse's mouth.  If neccesary, the vet will use long handled molar cutters to remove large hooks.  This can be a rough process to watch, but is very worthwhile and neccessary for the proper chewing.  Once the vet has removed any hooks, a large file is used to smooth out any rough edges.  This is known as "floating the teeth" and can be done with hand or power tools.  The aim of the float procedure is to return the horse's teeth to their proper alignment, or "occlusion" and removing any sharp points which make it difficult or painful to chew food properly.


** Article and information obtained from a mailing by Galax Veterinary Clinic/Animal Medical Services and the office of Dr. Fincher DVM of Galax, VA





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