Like humans, horses need routine dental care too.

Did you know horses need routine dental care just like people?  Equine dentistry is about more than “floating” sharp teeth. This only addresses one of many problems that can be going on inside the depths of your horse’s mouth.  Equine dentistry has evolved from a bucket of water and hand float.  We currently focus on providing a thorough dental exam and only float teeth when needed.  Without a proper exam, small changes can go undetected and turn into big problems.  This happened recently with a stallion seen by Equine Field Service:

“Chasers” is a 10 year old stallion who was losing weight.  The owners had noticed he was a little thin when they got him a few months ago, but despite increasing his grain and adding a fat supplement, he slowly lost more weight and then developed a wound that was draining pus on his lower jaw.  At this point they called Ohio State’s Equine Field Services.

With no known trauma and a history of weight loss the doctor decided an oral exam would be the best place to start.  An examination of Chasers’ mouth showed that the first cheek tooth on the upper jaw was very tall and the opposing tooth of his lower jaw was missing.  The long tooth had been erupting every year, just like his other teeth, but due to the missing tooth it was never worn down.  Eventually, this tooth became so tall it abraded the gum tissue over the missing tooth.  This led to an infection and the draining tract seen on the outside of his jaw.

Thankfully for Chasers, this problem, called a “step tooth”, can be treated easily by sequentially grinding down the overgrown tooth over a period of months until it is back to its normal height.  A step tooth should not be cut with “molar cutters” as this can fracture the tooth or leave the pulp (the nerves and blood supply) of the tooth exposed.  Pulp exposure causes pain and sometimes infection and loss of the tooth.  Removing too much tooth with a float can also expose the pulp and aggressive power floating can create heat that can damage the tooth. Over the last year, Dr. Chiero has removed a couple millimeters of tooth crown every 3-4 months and Chasers is now back to normal.   A once yearly dental float will keep the problem from occurring in the future.

Your horse’s yearly dental checkup should involve a detailed oral exam using special dental tools designed for horses, including a mouth speculum, a dental mirror and probes. It’s about more than "floating" sharp teeth. We focus on providing a thorough dental exam; we only float teeth when needed. Without a proper exam, small changes can go undetected and turn into big problems! Donkeys, mules, miniature horses and drafts should not be left out. We have equipment to suit all equine patients.