The horses’ hypsodont teeth are quite different than human teeth in that they erupt continuously throughout their life. They have a total of 6 incisors, 2 canines, 6-8 premolars, and 6 molars (40- 42 teeth total). As horses grind their food, the opposing teeth are worn down. If there is any imbalance to the mouth the teeth may not be ground down evenly, causing abnormalities such as hooks, steps or waves along the occlusal surface. Furthermore, the grinding action of chewing can cause sharp points on the outside edges of the upper cheek teeth and inside edges of the lower cheek teeth, which can lead to ulcers or pain.
Routine oral examinations have proven to be pivotal in recognizing and preventing oral pathology and keeping the equine mouth balanced and healthy throughout its lifetime. Furthermore it helps prevent oral pain, the inability to chew and process feed properly, and certain types of colic. We recommend every horse be examined at least yearly, and when needed a float or equilibration is then performed to help optimize chewing function and remove sharp dental points that often cause abrasions or ulcerations. Furthermore our sedated examinations also assess periodontal disease, and addressing issues early helps avoid more invasive painful conditions in the future.
When needed our portable radiography machines are used to further assess the tooth root and surrounding bone. The radiographs can help decide whether further treatments are indicated and can help monitor the tooth health over time.
All of our veterinarians are skilled in routine equine dentistry and use sedation and motorized power tools designed to allow precise adjustments and appropriately smooth the edges of the teeth without causing trauma to the surrounding soft tissues. Basic extractions can be performed at the farm, and when indicated referrals are made for more advanced procedures.