Hereford Veterinary Clinc

3475 US Hwy 60; P.O. Box 1756
Hereford, TX 79045

(806)364-1331

herefordvet.com

WE HAVE GREATLY ENHANCED OUR ABILITIES AND EQUIPMENT FOR PERFORMING ADVANCED EQUINE DENTISTRY

Our new dental equipment includes a WATER COOLED FLOATING SYSTEM.  This allows for much safer grinding of the teeth, greatly reducing the chances of HEAT NECROSIS.  We will spend as much time with our examination as we will with the actual equilibration or "float."

        

A horses teeth are much different than our own or that of other animals. Horses' teeth erupt (or grow) throughout their entire life, unlike our teeth, which fully erupt when we are young and then stop growing. These teeth are ideally suited to the way a horse naturally eats - grazing plants almost constantly throughout the day. This constant grinding action would quickly wear down teeth like ours, but horses' teeth grow to match the rate of wear.  However, problems can arise when we take our horses out of that natural setting and change the way they eat. We feed them a different diet, often partially made up of grain which is softer than roughage, and limit their time spent eating to just a few hours a day. 

This causes the horse's teeth to wear unevenly and develop sharp points, which interfere with the grinding action of the teeth and can also cause ulcers on the cheeks and tongue. This, along with other dental abnormalities such as diseased or broken teeth, retained deciduous (baby) teeth, and gum disease can lead to several different symptoms in the horse.

These symptoms include:

  • Loss of feed from mouth while eating, difficulty with chewing, or excessive salivation.  
  • Loss of body condition.
  • Large or undigested feed particles (long stems or whole grain) in manure.
  • Head tilting or tossing, bit chewing, tongue lolling, fighting the bit, or resisting bridling.
  • Poor performance, such as lugging on the bridle, failing to turn or stop, even bucking.
  • Foul odor from mouth or nostrils, or traces of blood from the mouth.
  • Nasal discharge or swelling of the face, jaw or mouth tissues.

(Courtesy of the AAEP)

Horse's can get tooth decay or "cavities" much like those that we find out about when visiting our own dentist.  Areas of tooth decay left untreated will eventually cause the root of the tooth to abscess and loosen. Restorations similar to the "fillings" done at dentist's offices are also possible in horses and are indicated to prevent the eventual loss of a tooth.  The equipment that we use is very similar to the equipment seen in your dentist's office, just BIGGER.

 


If you see any of these symptoms in your horse, call to schedule an appointment for an oral exam. Our doctors can then diagnose the problem and provide the appropriate treatment. Many of these problems can be prevented by routine dental examinations. Mature horses should be examined yearly. Horses from 2-5 years of age should be examined twice yearly, as many problems arise in these young horses. During this time period the horse sheds its 24 deciduous (baby) teeth and up to 44 permanent teeth erupt.

One of the most common dental procedures performed is occlusal equilibration, often referred to as "floating." This is where the doctor uses a motorized instrument to smooth the points that have developed on the cheek teeth. Other procedures that may be performed if needed are extraction of retained deciduous teeth, extraction of wolf teeth (small vestigial teeth that often times interfere with the bit), correction of malocclusions, and extraction of broken or abscessed teeth.