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Equestrian Dental Care Tips

When raising horses, there are so many things that you have to think about on a daily basis. And many horse owners admit to letting their horse’s dental health slide to the bottom on their list of priorities. This month, I want to encourage each and every one of you to set aside some time to learn more about your horse’s dental health, and why it is so crucial to the overall health and well being of your horses. A little bit of knowledge coupled with a good equestrian dentist can make a world of difference.

Equestrian Dentistry

An equestrian dentist is not unlike your own, they just deal with a much bigger client! Your average horse can have 44 teeth, which means that there is ample opportunity for something to go wrong. You should try to have your horse seen every 6 months to keep on top of any dental problems or to avoid having any develop. If you don’t know of any one in your area, try asking your veterinarian for a recommendation. Most dentists will do a variety of different services, such as:

• Achieve and maintain proper balance and equal pressure throughout the mouth (at the incisors, molars and temporal mandibular joint-TMJ)

• Identify and eliminate dental abnormalities and disease

• Retained baby tooth extractions (they lose 24 baby teeth between 2 1/2 years and 5 years of age)

• Wolf/Molar/Incisor teeth extractions

• Remove sharp points on teeth that can cut tongue and cheek (known as floating)

• Early identification of potential dental problems

• Pre-Purchase Exams

• Emergency care

• Maintenance care

Don’t be afraid to ask your horse’s dentist questions about the procedure, and the aftercare required. If the procedure requires sedation, your dentist may recommend doing a few different things at once to decrease the number of times that your horse must be put under.

Floating & Other Common Procedures

One of the most common dental procedures done on horses is something known as “floating.” Basically floating is the "rasping," or filing of points on the teeth to prevent them from cutting the cheek or tongue. Floating may involve leveling of the molar arcades or rounding the surface of the second premolar to resemble the end of a thumb. The goal of floating is to maintain the symmetry and balance of the arcade and to allow free chewing motion. (Eqgroup.com) Your horse may also need an extraction of certain teeth like the wolf teeth or incisors.

Warning Signs/Dental Problems

If you are taking your horse to the dentist regularly, you are already a step ahead of the game. Routine care can usually identify any problems before they begin to cause your horse pain or discomfort. But sometimes, things spring up that must be addressed. Watching your horse for signs of discomfort or odd behavior will help you treat any dental problems before they become serious. Here are just a few of the problems that you may come in contact with that may be caused by dental problems.

• Injuries to the cheeks, tongue or the gums

• Head Tossing

• Refusing the bit or sensitivity to the bit

• Pushing on the bit

• Difficult transitions

• Reluctance in turning either direction

• Not rounding up

• Bucking or rearing

• Riding high headed

• Unexplained, sudden changes in performance

• Training resistance

• Failing to stop or turn

• Flipping over

• Bucking

• Tongue lolling

• Loss of weight and body condition

• Excessive salivation

• Dropping feed

• Wasting of feed

• Undigested feed/hay particles in manure

• Hesitance to eat, due to pain

• Colic episodes

• Slow chewing

Final Thoughts

The key to good dental health is preventative care. Regular visits to the dentist will keep your horse in top form and make both of you rest a little bit easier at night.

Resources

http://www.horsecalendar.com/IndexAEDPGuidePage.html

http://www.southwestequinedentistry.com/id1.html

http://www.eqgroup.com/Library/dental.htm

 

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