Den­tal Mat­ters

Reg­u­lar den­tal care to main­tain your horse’s teeth in top con­di­tion will help to keep him healthy and pain-free.

Horse & Rider - - Horse Life -

Horses live longer these days, so their teeth must keep work­ing longer, as well. For that to hap­pen, your horse needs proper den­tal care through­out his life. Here’s what to know.

What Can Go Wrong?

We used to think the sharp enamel points that can de­velop on the cheek side of the top teeth and the tongue side of the bot­tom teeth were the only den­tal is­sue to worry about. These points make chew­ing painful and can cre­ate ul­cers in the cheek and tongue. Though points are still the most com­mon prob­lem, we now know the over­all proper func­tion of the teeth and soft tis­sues of the mouth are also of vi­tal con­cern. Horses’ teeth con­tinue to grow and wear down most of their lives, and ab­nor­mal wear pat­terns can cre­ate un­nat­u­ral tooth con­fig­u­ra­tions. These in­clude:

• hooks (one tooth grows un­in­hib­ited); • step mouth (ex­ces­sive length in a cheek tooth);

• wave mouth (an un­even sur­face to a line of teeth). (For ex­cel­lent vi­su­als on these and other den­tal con­di­tions, visit Texas Equine Den­tistry at HorseTeeth.)

Signs to Watch For

Warn­ing signs of den­tal dis­ease in­clude: quid­ding (drop­ping par­tially chewed food), bad breath, food pack­ing within cheeks, ten­der­ness or swelling around the jaw, re­duced ap­petite, head toss­ing, head shy­ness, un­usual re­sis­tance to the bit, and ex­ces­sive sali­vat­ing.

Horses are re­mark­ably stoic, how­ever, so you can’t al­ways tell when their teeth or gums are hurt­ing. This is why reg­u­larly sched­uled den­tal ex­ams (see be­low) are so im­por­tant.

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