Dental maintenance is an essential part of every horse’s health program. Unlike in humans, horses’ teeth continuously erupt over the course of their lifetime. Due to the un-natural lifestyle of the domestic horse, horses do not wear their teeth appropriately. This usually results in sharp enamel points forming on the teeth, leading to ulceration of the fragile tissues in the mouth. Other abnormalities, such as hooks on the upper teeth and ramps on the lower teeth, will restrict the mobility of the lower jaw, and can impact the horse’s comfort and performance.

When your horse receives a dental, standing sedation is administered, and a complete oral exam is performed. A guarded power float tool is then used to remove any sharp enamel points and correct any abnormalities in wear. If present, wolf teeth may be extracted when indicated. This is typically a simple procedure that can be performed during the same appointment. Any abnormalities such as mobile or fractured teeth can be identified, and treated as needed. Our goal is that with a regular dental program, your horse will be less likely to develop marked dental abnormalities that could lead to more complicated and costly conditions.

At Meadow Lane Equine Clinic, we recommend oral exams begin just prior to starting the horse under saddle, then annually throughout their working life into retirement. Most working horses require annual dental floating to maintain optimal performance. Other indications to perform an oral exam include:

• Difficulty eating, dropping or quidding (balling) feed
• Hard keepers or weight loss
• Reduced performance
• Fussiness in the bridle or head shyness
• Unilateral (one sided) nasal discharge
• Malodour coming from the nose or mouth
• Excessive salivation