teeth

Petraschleift

 

 

 

WHY MUST MY HORSE GO TO THE DENTIST?

The horses’ mouth is designed to graze hard savannah grass for 16 to 18 hours a day. The teeth therefore continually grow throughout the horses’ life and are ground down by the constant figure of eight mouth movements.

Through the domesticity of the horse we have changed the natural feeding environment to fit into our schedules.  For example: short eating periods mostly broken up into 3 times a day – sometimes even only twice a day - feeding soft grass and hay, and of course, the feeding of high concentrated foods.

With this approach to feeding the teeth are not ground down sufficiently to balance the natural growth of the teeth leading to various imbalances and problems.

What you often find is that the Incisors have grown too long.  This has an impact on the contact (the occlusion) of the molar teeth, compromising the grinding action and effectiveness of the mouth apparatus. When the grinding action is not optimal it leads to the formation of hooks and sharp edges on the teeth which then lead to injuries of the tongue and mucous membrane inside the mouth.  This is obviously the cause of a lot of pain and discomfort.

When the grinding action is compromised it stands to reason that the food is not crushed or ground correctly resulting in the inability for the horses’ body to absorb the nutrients correctly.  It can also lead to digestive disturbances, for example, colic.

Having a horse with pain in his mouth also has an enormous negative impact on your riding.

To try and compensate or deal with the pain a horse might start off by tensing or cramping his mouth.  This tensing or cramping then radiates through the jaw, atlas-axis area, through the neck, the back – the entire body is affected.  You end up with a tense, unhappy horse in constant pain.

It is therefore imperative to have your horses teeth checked regularly ensuring the health and happiness of your horse and, of course, avoiding unnecessary pain and suffering.

Horse_Head_teeth

HOW CAN I IDENTIFY DENTAL PROBLEMS?

  • Loss of weigh even though the horse is getting sufficient food.
  • Problems eating e.g. concentrated food falls out of the horses’ mouth while eating
  • Unprocessed, undigested identifiable food in dung.
  • Colic incidents on a regular basis or chocking incidents.
  • Bad smell coming from the mouth.
  • Sensitivity and aversion to touch around head, jaw muscles and mucous membranes of the mouth
  • Headshaking can in many cases be related to teeth problems.
  • Riding problems, e.g. not wanting to accept the bit, not wanting to be mounted, panic situations, etc.
  • WHICH PROBLEMS OCCUR REGULARLY?
  • Sharp edges on the molars, on the upper jaw predominately on the outside edge and on the lower jaw predominately on the inside edge of the teeth.
  • Hooks and Ramps on the first or last molar.
  • Steps and Waves in the molar teeth line.
  • Loose, broken or rotten teeth.
  • Milk teeth caps, which have remained behind during the development of adult teeth.
  • Incisors that are too long.
  • Incisor teeth gradient that is bent or askew.
  • Wolfs' teeth in front of the first Premolars.
  • Sharp edged, pointed hook teeth.
  • Tartar.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET MY HORSES TEETH CHECKED?

  • Foals should have their teeth and jaws examined just to ensure early that there anomaly that might cause problems later on in life.
  • Between the ages of 2,5 and 5 years the change from milk to adult teeth takes place. To complicate things this is also the normal time that training for young horses takes place. To ensure that this critical stage in your horses’ life goes smoothly with no health problems, or learning process interruptions, the mouth of your horse should be examined at least twice a year.
  • In the case of a fully grown horse a once a year examination, when there are no identified problems, suffices.
  • Senior horses need to be examined more often due to age related issues e.g. loosing teeth.

WHAT HAPPENS AT MY HORSES DENTAL TREATMENT?

The goal of the dental treatment is to maintain or rehabilitate the Thee-Point-Balance between the jaw mechanism, molar and incisor teeth.

Every hook or tooth that is too long will compromise the Thee-Point-Balance system.

The individual steps during a dental examination and treatment are as follows:

  • Evaluation of the general state of the horses’ mouth and any problems that arise from this examination.
  • Examination of head, jaw mechanism, chewing muscles, incisors and the first molars.
  • Examination of the jaw movement.
  • Sedation of the horse – done by the owners Veterinary Surgeon.  Sedation is critical for  optimal dental treatment.   Only when the horse is sedated can the work be done correctly and the Three-Point-Balance restored.  Dental treatment without sedation always means stress for the horse
  • With the Mouth Opener the molars right at the back of the mouth can be examined and treated.
  • Hooks and sharp edges on the Molars are removed with the electric dental file – thus bringing teeth that are too long to the correct length.
  • Existing Wolfs' teeth are removed.
  • After the molars have been treated the occlusion is evaluated and, if necessary, the Incisors will be adjusted.
  • Tartar will be removed.
  • The condition of the horses’ teeth before and after treatment will be documented

Note that no information given on this website should be considered a substitute for consulting your veterinarian, farrier or relevant professional.