Dental Care for Gillette Area Horses
Our equine friends can suffer from many dental disorders, which can affect their ability to eat normally and perform well.
Annual equine dental visits from our vets at Red Hills Veterinary Hospital include a thorough oral health examination and tooth floating (if necessary). Equine dentistry help to ensure optimal dental health for your horse.
All of our equine vets are trained in the use of motorized and hand-powered dental instruments. The use of sedation and full-mouth speculums to perform oral exams allows our experienced vets to accurately assess and treat the oral health needs of your horse with comfort and safety in mind.
Equine Dental Exams & Treatments
Much like your own yearly visits to the dentist, adult horses should be seen by their vet for a dental examination at least once a year. Older horses, over the age of 20, or those prone to dental issues may need to be seen more often.
The vets at Red Hills Veterinary Hospital can assess, diagnose, and treat dental health problems in horses both at our state-of-the-art facility and at your farm.
If you spot any of the following symptoms in your horse, it's time for a dental appointment.
- Dropping food from the mouth while chewing
- Awkward chewing motions while eating
- Unusual difficulties placing a bit in the horses’ mouth
- Weight loss
- Difficulty riding when the horse has a bit in
- Nasal discharge
- Food packing within cheeks
- Poorly digested food in manure
Equine dental appointments generally begin with the veterinarian gathering a history for your horse. They will ask the owner or stable manager questions to gauge what they may expect to find in a horses’ mouth. Typically, the veterinarian will ask if certain symptoms of dental problems have been present in the horse’s behavior.
Your horse will be sedated for their dental appointment to allow for a more thorough examination of the mouth.
Once the vet has opened your horse's mouth with a full-mouth speculum, they will be to perform a comprehensive exam of each element of your horse's mouth, including the gums, mucosa, teeth, and tongue.
After your vet has had a chance to examine your horse's mouth, they will discuss treatment options if any issues are detected.
In most cases, a horse's teeth can become worn in a way that leads to sharp edges, so their dentist will file them down with a procedure called 'floating'. This uses power or hand tools to grind the teeth in certain spots to either adjust the alignment of the mouth or to smooth out sharp or protruding points in the teeth.
Help to protect your horse's dental health by providing at least half of their diet as good quality long fiber. If you have an older horse, they may require special attention with their diet, especially if they are missing teeth or struggle to chew long fiber. Fiber replacements offer a good solution in such cases, but be sure to speak to your vet about any concerns you may have.
FAQs About Equine Dentistry
Do you have questions about equine oral health and dental care?
Below you will find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from our clients about horse dental care.
- Why do horses need yearly dental exams?
Making horse dental care a priority can save not only your horse's life, but can save time and money and give you and your horse the quality of life and companionship you both deserve
When a horse is young, its teeth are still soft and still gaining calcium, so they can become sharp quickly. Dental care is extremely vital to preparing a young horse to begin its training.
Throughout the horse's life, teeth will naturally wear down both normally and abnormally. The result can be either pain or premature wear of the teeth. The discomfort that can result from even regular wear patterns makes annual dental exams important for the horse.
In addition, the development of wolf teeth and other dental anomalies can cause a young horse great discomfort, resulting in fighting the bit and making training more difficult. Any pressure on the horse's cheeks is capable of rubbing on these teeth, which tend to be pointed.
- How can I tell if my horse has oral health issues?
Behavior can be a huge indication of oral health problems. If your horse is experiencing dental problems, they can have bad breath, drop food, or have less of an appetite. They can also pack food in their cheeks, start to lose weight, or fight the bit during training.
Read more about symptoms to the left under Equine Dental Care & Exams.
- What long-term problems can poor oral health potentially cause in my pet?
Serious dental conditions can develop, such as infections of the teeth and gums, extremely long hooks or overgrowths on the cheek teeth, and lost or fractured teeth. These conditions may require advanced dental care and/or extraction by a qualified veterinarian.
Your equine veterinarian can recommend the best treatment or refer your horse to a dental specialist if needed.
- How can I keep an eye on my horse's dental health?
Regularly, handle your horse's head and mouth to make sure they are comfortable having their mouth examined. If you own a foal, exam the foal's teeth as soon as possible, checking for baby teeth called caps that are pushed out by the growing permanent teeth by the time the horse is about two years old.
If caps are creating pain and soreness, you may have your veterinarian remove the caps. The same goes for wolf teeth, which are extra teeth that may grow crooked or in the wrong spot.
With an adult horse, open the mouth and check for uneven wear on teeth resulting in points or sharp edges that will keep the horse from properly chewing feed.
Also, note any teeth that are beginning to protrude excessively or cause mal-alignment or malocclusion. Note any changes in eating habits, loss of weight, bad breath, dropping half-eaten food, holding the head at a strange angle, bolting, or head tossing when being bridled or ridden. Any of these conditions may be caused by dental problems.
- What are some common dental health problems in horses?
Some commonly seen dental issues for horses include:
- Abnormal wear with sharp enamel edges on both the lower and upper check teeth. If pronounced, this can cause painful ulcers and erosions of the soft tissues of the cheek or tongue
- Overgrowth is either secondary to a misaligned jaw (parrot mouth) or as a result of a missing tooth
- Fractured, displaced, loose, or missing cheek teeth
- Diastema (gaps between the teeth where food collects) that causes gum disease
- Caries: tooth decay
- Tooth root abscess
- Retained deciduous (baby) teeth
- Blind (unerupted) or abnormally large or displaced wolf teeth
- Abnormalities of the incisors