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Equine Denistry

Learn to Recognize Your Horse’s Dental Problems

Dental Exams
Routine Dental exams are not crucial, but can be very beneficial because we have modified our horses’ diet and eating patterns through domestications and confinement. Routine dental care is recommended for your horses’ health, and with it, your horse will be more comfortable, utilize feed more efficiently, and may perform better and longer. 
Your horses’ teeth were adapted to graze all day long. Their incisors were made to shear off forage. Their molars and pre molars grind feed before swallowing. Horses have deciduous (baby) teeth also. The last deciduous teeth come in at 8 months. Around age 2, the first three premolars and incisors begin to be replaced. By age 5, horses have their full set of permanent teeth. 
Wolf Teeth
Lots of clients have questions about wolf teeth and often mistake them for canines. Wolf teeth are very small teeth with short roots that do not set firmly in the jawbone and are located in front of the second premolar. At around 5-6 months, a horses wolf teeth start to come in. While not all wolf teeth are troublesome, they are routinely removed to prevent pain or interfere with the bit. 
Common Dental Problems
Common dental problems include: sharp enamel points forming on the check teeth, causing lacerations of the check and tongue, retained caps, or deciduous teeth especially with contact of the wolf teeth, hooks formed on upper and lower premolars from the way they grind their teeth, lost or broken teeth, abnormal or uneven bit planes, excessively worn teeth, long teeth and infected teeth.
Recognizing Dental Problems
Horses may show obvious signs of discomfort and pain, but some horses adapt to their discomfort. Indications may include: loss of feed difficulty chewing excessive salivation, loss of body condition, large or undigested feed particles in manure (long stem or whole grain,) head tilting, bit chewing, tongue rolling, fighting the bit, bridle resistance, poor performance, failing to turn, stopping, foul odor from mouth or traces of blood from the mouth, nasal discharge or swelling of the face, jaw or mouth tissues. 
Remember that if a horse has ear ticks, the horse will mimic these problems. A complimentary ear tick exam is performed along with every dental exam.
Preventative Maintenance
Different feeds can affect the wear of horses’ teeth. Softer feeds require less chewing and may allow the teeth to become excessively long or wear unevenly. Oral exams should be a part of an annual physical exam. It provides the opportunity to perform routing and preventative maintenance. It also includes a chance to identify and correct any abnormalities.
Floating your horses’ teeth removes sharp enamel points and can help create a more even bit plane. The horses’ lower jaw is more narrow than its upper jaw and it grinds its feed with a sideway motion. Sharp points tend to form along the edges (Cheek side on upper jaw, and tongue side on lower jaw) 
When your horses’ teeth are out of alignment, hooks can from in the front of the arcade of the top teeth and back of the arcade of the bottom teeth. Uneven wear of permanent molars and premolars can result in a wave mouth. Correction of hooks, points, ridges and waves can be achieved with floating.
Age Factor
The age of your horse affects the degree of attention and frequency of dental care required. Horses going into training for the first time (2-3 year olds) need a more comprehensive exam. Teeth should be floated to remove points and caps as needed. Floating may improve efficiency and comfort. 
Deciduous teeth on 2-5year olds tend to be softer than permanent teeth, thus leading them to get points quicker. Even the best dental program may not be able to alleviate all young horses discomfort or behavioral problems.
Mature horses should be examined once per year. It is important to maintain an even bit plane during a horses middle years to ensure a level grinding surface in their 20’s. If any further questions need be asked, please give us a call. We would love to help you, and the comfort and well being of you horse. 

Additional information is available on the AAEP’s horse health Web site,

      The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse.

      Permission for one-time use in printed media only is granted with attribution given to the AAEP and Bayer Animal Health.
Commonly when our horses have ear ticks, they mimic dental problems.(head tilting, head shaking, bridal issues, etc.) So, at the end of every dental examination we procede with an ear tick examination at no extra charge. Here, Dr. Morrow is checking this horse for ear ticks.
(Ticks at the base of the ear)
Contact Information:
11045 Trinidad Street
Amarillo, TX  79118
Phone: (806) 622-0803

Office Hours: 
Monday - Friday 
9:00AM to 5:00PM
 by appointment