Skip to Main Content

Ask About Financing

The Importance Of Caring For Your Horse's Teeth

Caring for your horse's mouth is an important part of caring for their overall health, happiness, and performance. In today's post, our Wichita vets share some important reasons why you should have your horse's teeth examined regularly and oral health problems that could affect your horse.

Your Horse's Teeth

Horses, like their humans, get two sets of teeth in their lifetime. The baby teeth, also called deciduous teeth, are temporary. These teeth begin to be replaced by adult teeth around age two. By age 5, most horses have their full set of permanent teeth.

Throughout its life, a horse's teeth are constantly erupting. They also chew by moving their jaws in a figure 8 motion from side to side. These two factors cause sharp points to form on the outside of your horse's upper cheek teeth and the inside of his lower cheek teeth. These points can become sharp enough over the course of a year to damage the soft tissues of your horse's mouth as they chew.

Horses can also have dental abnormalities or poor dental placement, shape, or structure which may continue to become more severe if not addressed regularly.

Dental Issues Seen in Horses

Dental issues are relatively common in our equine friends. Horses may experience a range of dental issues if their teeth are not properly maintained. Some examples include:

  • Sharp points form on cheek teeth, causing lacerations of the cheeks and tongue
  • Deciduous teeth that have not fallen out
  • Discomfort caused by bit contact with the wolf teeth
  • Hooks forming on the upper and lower cheek teeth
  • Lost, broken, misaligned, or worn teeth
  • Abnormal or uneven bite planes
  • Abnormally long teeth
  • Infected teeth and/or gums
  • Periodontal (gum) disease

Signs That Your Horse Is Experiencing Dental Issues

Horses experiencing dental issues may display one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of body condition
  • Large or undigested feed particles in manure
  • Head tilting or tossing, bit chewing, tongue lolling, fighting the bit, or resisting bridling
  • Nasal discharge or swelling of the face, jaw, or mouth tissues
  • Foul odor from the mouth or nostrils, or traces of blood in the mouth
  • Loss of feed from mouth while eating, difficulty with chewing, or excessive salivation
  • Poor performance, such as lugging on the bridle, failing to turn or stop, and even bucking

You are the expert on your horse, so if they begin exhibiting symptoms or acting in ways that seem abnormal, it is time to make an appointment with our skilled equine veterinarian at Equine Surgery & Medicine for a dental checkup.

Treating Dental Issues in Horses

Having your vet examine your horse's teeth annually is the best way to maintain the health of your horse's mouth. Your Wichita equine vet will perform a procedure commonly known as 'floating.'

Floating is essentially the grinding down of the points or your horse's teeth with a tool that looks like a large Dremel.

By smoothing out your horse's teeth, fixing malocclusion, and addressing other dental issues, flotation therapy helps to remove the sharp enamel points from its teeth. To reduce the amount of stress or anxiety experienced by your horse during the procedure and to give your equine vet the chance to get the best results possible without encountering any resistance from your equine companion, floating is frequently carried out under sedation.

Age & Your Horses Teeth

Age will have an impact on the type of dental care your horse may require. Your veterinarian will have a clearer idea of what your horse needs after performing a thorough examination. Age has a number of typical effects on a horse's dental health, such as:

  • Foals should be examined shortly after birth and often during the first year to diagnose and correct congenital dental issues.
  • Horses going into training for the first time need a comprehensive dental check-up before training begins to prevent training problems related to sharp teeth.
  • Horses aged 2 to 5 years may require more frequent dental exams because deciduous teeth are softer than permanent teeth and may develop sharp enamel points more quickly.
  • Mature horses should get a thorough dental examination at least annually to maintain correct dental alignment and to diagnose dental problems.
  • Horses 17 years old or older are at increased risk for developing periodontal disease. This painful disease must be diagnosed early for successful treatment. Beyond the age of 20, the tooth surfaces may be worn excessively and/or unevenly, and dental alignment correction may be impossible.

If your horse is due for its annual dental exam or is displaying any concerning behavior, contact Equine Surgery & Medicine today to book an appointment. We pride ourselves on being Wichita's vet for quality equine care you can count on.

Schedule an Appointment Today

Equine Surgery & Medicine is accepting new patients. Our team of veterinarians has been providing expert equine care since 1975. Get in touch with us today to book an appointment.

Contact Us

(316) 744-2007 Contact