Maintaining your horse’s teeth Wolf teeth l
What can I do to help maintain the condition of my horse’s teeth between his dental appointments? Kieran Cliff, Manchester
My best advice to you would be to engage the services of a qualified professional who will visit your horse a couple of times a year from approximately 12 months of age. Note, though, that a preliminary oral examination should take place in foals to rule out conformational difficulties. From about the age of two to two-and-a-half years, the deciduous teeth start to shed and are replaced by permanent dentition. It’s difficult for owners without a full mouth speculum to assess the cheek teeth, but efforts should be made to keep an eye on the incisor teeth while getting your horse used to having his mouth handled. Owners are often alarmed when the incisors start to shed; frequently the teeth become discoloured at the root, appearing as though fractured, and the gingivae starts to bleed. It’s all part of the teething process, but a call to your qualified equine dental technician or equine vet will allay doubt.
Signs of dental disease
Changes in eating or feeding habit, including inappetence (a veterinary emergency in ponies, miniature horses and donkeys) Quidding (dropping feed while chewing) Dunking/dropping feed/forage into water Drooling Weight loss/poor body condition Changes in bitted behaviour including when being bridled and ridden Halitosis (bad breath) Nasal discharge (especially, but not limited to, one-sided, thick, yellow/green snot with/without offensive smell) Masses/swellings around the head Faecal fibre length: this is a good indicator of dental efficiency. Long fibres in droppings can indicate mastication (chewing) problems.
Don’t rely on dental signs to indicate a need for you to call in professional services. Many horses will not show signs until dental disease is advanced and treatment is unlikely to be curable. Source qualified equine dental technicians and vets by contacting the British Association of Equine Dental Technicians at baedt.com
Get your horse checked by a dental technician at least a couple times a year to help keep his teeth and mouth in good condition