Goats Goats Goats!
Goat and horse teeth have a lot of similar characteristics. All teeth are made out of the same materials; dentin, cementum, enamel and pulp. They also have the same basic function of the breaking down of food for digestion. And, just like horses digestion starts in the mouth with the grinding of food. They also start out with baby teeth just like horses. It is said that you can estimate age as well, but just like horses it all depends on the health, diet and habits of that animals; so the older the animal the harder it is to estimate age.
So now the differences… goats only have lower incisors and instead of upper incisors they have a hard dental plate. The incisors are what they call true teeth and do not continually erupt throughout the goat?s life. Goats also have a different chewing pattern as their digestive process is different. They don?t chew in an oval type pattern like horses, but they chew more side to side along with an oval movement. This helps them slice and grind their food. They also regurgitate and break down their food differently, so the way they grind their food isn’t as crucial to their nutritional intake as in horses, but it is still important – especially in the older animal.
Goats do not have wolf teeth or canine teeth like horses, so they have 32 teeth total, so that number includes only molars (24) and incisors (8).
Goats can make 40-60 thousand chewing motions per day. They can selectively grab their food with an incredibly mobile upper lip. This helps them better avoid thorns and spines of plants. Their jaws are designed to grind up as much as possible in a small amount of time. Grazing for goats is more like a harvest of food to be held and then broken down later by regurgitation. Unlike horses that graze all day to constantly process forage.
So, with all this motion and needs to break down food – it is no wonder that keeping it functioning properly is just as important as any other process to keep them healthy.
On to the exam for goats:
As a dental technician I cannot officially diagnose your animal for any health conditions. I can make observations and for some situation will advise to consult with your veterinarian.
What am I looking for? I watch for chewing pattern and ease, I look for lumps, bumps or other abnormalities on the face, jaw or neck. Inside the mouth I am looking for lost, broken or decaying teeth. I am also looking for overall balance and for any malocclusions that will restrict jaw movement. I will also look for abscesses, lesions or cuts caused by sharp points, teeth or foreign objects.
Why have your goats teeth examined or floated? First and foremost, piece of mind. If you goat is losing weight, not chewing properly or not breaking down their food – this is not a quality of life you want for them. We also need to consider the comfort in their mouths as well. If your mouth hurts or you have something poking into your chew or tongue while you chew ? the last thing you want to do is eat or you might limit what you eat the same goes for four legged friends.
Goats are more efficient at keeping their teeth ground down to proper heights than horses, but age plays a huge factor. Just like any other function of the body; teeth can break down and function less efficiently over time. So far the goats I have floated and needed work done were older animals that were showing loss of weight or not properly using their cud. Just like us, horse or really any animal depend a lot on proper digestion not only for nutrition but for immune system health.
Exam is complete ? now what?
Once it is determined what shape the teeth are in and the needs the teeth have, it is time to make a plan to correct those issues. Unless something else is in the way such as a tall tooth, abscessed tooth or infection, the largest correction should come first. This will help restore more comfort and movement faster. This will also help them feel better until you can complete all the work if it will take more than one session.