Routine dentistry is essential to maintaining a healthy horse, and can help prevent the development of significant pathology later in life.
Unfortunately, not all horses are as proud of their teeth as this one! A healthy mouth is essential for efficient feed utilization, maintenance of good body condition, pain free performance, and especially for helping longevity of your equine friend.
Well recognised signs of dental disease and pain include:
- weight loss/poor weight gain
- dropping feed and balls of grass or hay (quidding)
- packing of food in the cheeks (like a chipmunk)
- chewing on one side of the mouth
- halitosis (smelly breath)
- reluctance or being slow to eat
- facial swelling, especially with draining tracts at the skin
- one sided nasal discharge
- abnormal head carriage
- reluctance to have the bridle put on.
However, MANY horses will show no signs of oral pain what so ever. Much of this is due to their 'prey' status as an animal, where hiding pain is crucial to survival in the wild.
Horses have a few unique features of their dental anatomy which warrants a special approach to dentistry in this species. Click here (EVOLUTION and ANATOMY) for more information on this. Many of our vets have received extensive training in equine dentistry. This is in addition to the important foundations which are laid out by veterinary schools in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, disease processes, diagnostic imaging, medical and surgical therapies. This puts us in the best possible position to be the gold standard dental care provider your horse.
A thorough and complete dental examination is just as, if not more, important than the treatment (floating or filing and other techniques) part of a dental. A compliant and still horse, dental speculum, strong light, dental mirror and probes are absolutely essential for examination. This is made possible by our vets by using safe administration of intravenous sedative agents, tailored to your horse. Not only does this make examination and treatment much easier, faster and more accurate, it is significantly safer for the handler, the vet and the horse. Gone are the days where you have to battle or 'work with' a horse in a corner of a yard. Not only is this extremely unsafe, the 'dental' is not thorough nor complete in either examination or treatment ability.
How often your horse should receive a dental examination largely depends on its age and presence of existing dental disease. It generally falls either 6 or 12 monthly, but sometimes we need to see the horse sooner than that. Click here (DENTAL EXAMINATION FREQUENCY) for a further explanation on frequency of dental examinations.
The old adage of 'no hoof no horse' can most certainly be reworded to 'no mouth no horse' and like hooves, so much pain and discomfort can be avoided with regular and thorough care. As with much in veterinary medicine, prevention is better than cure and dentistry is no exception.
So don't just get the 'annual dental' box ticked, ensure you get a thorough and complete dental examination performed, your horse will thank you for it!