Mount Barker Veterinary Hospital

08 9851 1177

Equine Dentistry

Equine dentistry is a very important aspect of horse ownership which allows your horse to live pain free, utilise food properly and perform to it's greatest potential.

 

How often should my horse have a dental exam?

Your horses' teeth should be examined every 6-12 months or sooner if problems are experienced. Your horse should have it's first dental exam prior to being broken in.

 

How can I tell my horse has a dental problem?

Horses with dental problems may show obvious signs such as pain or irritation, or they may show no noticeable signs at all. Common signs indicating that your horse may be experiencing dental pain or disease include dropping feed from the mouth while eating, quidding food, a foul smell from the mouth or nostrils and / or weight loss. Fighting the bit, avoiding contact of the bit and head tossing can also be signs that your horse may need dental attention.

 

What is involved in a dental exam and powerfloating of the teeth?

  • Firstly we will sedate your horse and their head will be supported by either a head stand or dental halter which is suspended from above. Your horse is sedated to allow for maximum comfort and safety for the procedure.
  • The sedation used includes a strong pain relief and allows the mouth to be opened as wide as possible to allow the back cheek teeth to be treated correctly.
  • The chewing muscles, bones of the skull, salivary glands and lymph nodes are all assessed from the outside along with the range of jaw movement. The bones overlying the hollow cavities in the skull (sinuses) are tapped and the resultant sound assessed for any signs of infection etc.
  • The nostrils are checked for discharge.
  • The mouth is rinsed clean of any food. 
  • The veterinarian will then perform an examination using their hand to feel for abnormalities.
  • A dental light is used to illuminate the oral cavity and a detailed assessment made of each tooth, the gums, cheeks and tongue looking for any abnormalities that might need treating.  
  • Any abnormalities are then corrected using our powerfloat. When used correctly the powerfloat is the superior tool to treat teeth and avoid causing damage to the teeth.
  • The horses' mouth is then rinsed to remove any teeth residue and debris.

 

What are wolf teeth?

Wolf teeth are the remnants of the first premolars that have now become obsolete with the evolution of the horse. The most common first premolars seen in the horse are in the upper jaw and they are shaped similarly to small canine teeth. This is why they are often described as wolf teeth. These sharp teeth, if present, are in the area of the mouth where the bit fits. Wolf teeth may cause the horse some discomfort when pressure is placed on the bit. Therefore, these teeth are usually removed in young riding horses.

 

 

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