Equine Dental Care: What Every Horse Owner Should Know
"Horse owners should always be paying attention to the health of their horse's teeth. A horse is not able to tell us when they are feeling discomfort and pain in their mouth, and if their teeth are not looked after, then they are very likely to have future issues with them.
Unlike our teeth, a horses teeth never stop growing, and the constant rubbing of tooth against tooth can produce very sharp edges on their teeth. Also, a horse's mouth is where we place the bit while training and riding, and when their teeth are causing them problems, the bit can just make things worse. Since a horse is not able to vocalize what is wrong, it is up to the owner to make sure that their teeth are in good shape by watching for signs of teeth problems, checking for sharp edges, and taking them to get their teeth filed down when necessary.
Scheduling a regular teeth checkup for your horse is necessary. It should be done at least twice a year. A veterinarian or equine dentist will be able to determine the health of your horse's teeth, do any work that is required, and recommend future appointments to maintain good teeth health.
If you are just seeking help with your horse's teeth, then you may want to visit the equine dentist instead of the veterinarian. They will file your horse's teeth for sharp edges, just like the veterinarian will, but they will also check out the health of the teeth that a veterinarian may overlook. This can include the back teeth in the mouth or abnormalities of growth.
An equine dentist can also make recommendations on how to care for a horse with poor teeth to ensure that the horse keeps eating and enjoying his or her life substantially. This extra attention is to be expected as an equine dentist specializes in teeth and is bound to pay more attention in the prevention and treatment of teeth issues.
Most horses don't enjoy dental work, and some hate is so much that they need to be sedated to have any work done at all. It is not a pleasant experience to have their teeth propped open and filed. Moreover, because of their large teeth, equine dentists are at risk of injury, and if they feel they require the horse to be sedated then it will be doing them and the horse a favor.
If you neglect your horse's teeth, then they can suffer a high amount of pain and you can suffer a high amount of veterinarian bills in the future. Prevention is the key to good teeth health. If their teeth become too sharp, then that can cause issues with the gums as the sharp edges can poke into them. This can obviously cause a high amount of pain for the horse, and abscesses are a common result. At this stage, a tooth extraction may become necessary.
Another consideration is wolf teeth. They are teeth that sit in the horse's mouth where the bit is placed. They are very small and usually cause no problem at all, but sometimes they can. An equine dentist can determine whether this is an issue for your horse.
Horses are quite tolerant and may not make a huge deal out of their pain, but there are certain signs that your horse may be suffering from pain including dropping their food while eating and having issues with grazing. In addition, weight loss may occur if they have been avoiding eating due to pain.
While riding your horse watch for unusual behavior such as head shaking, holding their head in odd positions, poor concentration, and misbehaviour in general. If your horse is in pain or uncomfortable, then they are going to act out in some way and show their discomfort. You just have to keep your eyes open.
In the end, prevention is the key when it comes to good equine dental care. Ensuring that your horse's teeth are healthy will help them avoid any unnecessary mouth pain in the future. Dental care may not be fun for them, but it will ensure that you have a healthy horse, which is what matters most."