All good horse owners know that horses need to see the dentist usually about once a year, depending on their age and condition of their teeth.
Why do horses need to see a dentist?
This is because of how a horse’s jaw works and due to the fact that their teeth continue to grow throughout the majority of their life. The horses upper jaw is wider than their bottom jaw. So when they chew their food and grind their teeth, the teeth on the top and bottom jaw wear differently, which can lead to sharp edges which can cause pain and sores when they rub against the inside of the horse’s cheek or tongue.
Younger horses may need more regular visits from the dentist due to their teeth growing more rapidly and older horses may be starting to lose teeth and need more regular visits to prevent teeth from developing to cause the horse discomfort.
Signs you made need to call a dentist?
Horses may not display any symptoms of needing to see a dentist, whereas others can display various behaviours to show they are in pain. These could include; not going forwards, fussiness when fastening noseband, fussiness accepting the bit, not accepting a contact, pain when grooming the face and being off their food.
As I mentioned already, the typical horse only needs to see a dentist once a year. A good way to remember when your horse is due is to get their teeth done the same time they have their vaccinations. Therefore if you notice any changes in your horse you will have a good idea when they last had their teeth done to help you and your vet/trainer etc work out what the cause of the change in behaviour might be.
Scottie’s Dentistry Needs
I’m not sure if I have written about this before or not, but Scottie has slightly unique dentistry needs. This is because he is missing a front tooth or two and has a few damaged teeth. He had this before I got him and it happened to him when he was in the racing industry. I would guess that he got kicked following a horse too closely, but I don’t know for sure.
Because of his missing and damaged top teeth, I have to keep an eye on his bottom teeth as if these grow too long they can irritate his top gums. Luckily he tolerates me looking in his mouth at his missing teeth, so I can keep an eye on them to see if they are getting a bit long and luckily for me, there is also an equine vet at our yard too. So if I have any doubts she can always have a quick look and see what she thinks.
So far I have been lucky in that they haven’t grown fast enough to need doing more than once a year, which is a relief as I’m not sure he would let you do these ones without sedation, mainly because the device they use to keep a horse’s mouth open for the dentist blocks the teeth in question, so can’t be used for rasping his bottom front teeth.
But these missing teeth don’t seem to cause him any problems. He is still able to eat perfectly well and despite one being a bit wobbly and last year the vet saying she thought it was about to fall out, they are still all there and in the same condition as always. So I don’t have to worry about them yet, although I’m sure as he gets older they will start to cause more of a problem!
Do any of your horses have special dentistry needs?