When is it time to have a dental technician visit?
As listed on the General Dental Information page; adult horses should have a visit from a dental technician or Vet at least once a year for proper dental maintenance.
Routine and corrective dental care is one of the very important parts of your horse?s health care.
Have you notice your horse dropping more feed/grain when he or she eats?
Does he or she make funny faces, tilt their head or take a longer time than they use to, to eat?
Is there feed/grain showing up in the water bucket?
Have you noticed any foul breath, partly decayed food or balls of hay or grass falling out, on the ground or in the stall? Bumps on the side of their face, that don?t feel hot and feel slightly soft like hay or grass?
Is there a lot of large bits of feed or hay in their manure?
Dropping weight even though their amount of food has been increased?
What all this means to you the owner:
All these could be signs that their mouth has sharp enamel points; their TMJ is sore or a few other things are going on. It might be time to have them checked out by a dental technician to see what can be done to restore comfort to their mouth. Sharp points can make eating harder by causing a change in how they chewing (see SRED?s General Dental info page for chewing cycle info) and cause them to drop food. And when severely sharp points are present; they can also cause lacerations in their cheeks. These can be quite uncomfortable; imagine biting your cheek and chewing all day with it being scratched over and over, ouch!
What I will be checking as a dental technician as part of the exam:
- Check the TMJ for sensitivity by gently running over the joint with a finger or thumb. Any reaction could mean some stiffness/discomfort. It doesn?t take a lot of pressure to check, so there won?t be any additional discomfort for your horse
- Will also check the head/face for any lumps, bumps or swelling
- Look at the incisors to make sure they are functioning at their best and check overall condition
- Feel for sharp enamel points on tongue edge of the lower molars and the cheek edge of the upper molars, and to assess whether it is restricting jaw movement
- Check the molars for any issues or malocclusion (teeth not meeting properly) on the chewing surface and whether it is too restricting jaw movement
- The whole mouth will also be checked for a balanced relationship between the incisors and molars to make sure everything in the mouth is functioning properly as a whole
- Check for loose, decayed, or broken teeth if foul breath has been discovered or if there are any additional signs of trouble
The next steps:
Once the assessment has been made, the next step would be to determine the best course to restore the balance and comfort in your horse’s mouth. All options or needs will be discussed with the owner/client prior to any corrections being made.
This could range from a basic maintenance float to reduce/remove sharp points to reducing overpowering teeth and even a realignment of the incisors if needed to re-balance the mouth. If they are present the canines will be reduced, buffed and cleaned of any tarter if needed.
A speculum and hand floats will be used unless other instruments are needed. Power tools are only used when absolutely necessary or there is no better option for your horse. Your horse will be given plenty of breaks once the speculum is in use; this will give them a physical break as well as a mental break to insure a better experience. Your horse’s comfort and safety is always a priority and my main concern.
Once all corrections are performed, the follow up care or future appointments will be discussed. Some corrections might need to be done over more than one appointment due to the amount of work that might be needed; this is in the best interest of the horse and it well-being.