Equine Dental Care: How To Care for Your Horse’s Smile

Properly caring for your horse’s teeth is a vital part of its digestion and longevity. Read closely to understand the importance of equine dental care, what an equine dentist does to help your horse’s teeth, what happens to uncared for teeth and how you can help care for your horse’s teeth by yourself.

Check with your Veterinarian 

Equine dentists specialize in caring for your horse’s teeth and gums. Horses may require check-ins with a local dentist bi-annually or annually, depending on their age and health of teeth.

Management and Prevention

Properly caring for your horse’s teeth are a vital part of its digestion and longevity. It is recommended to feed it soft foods in addition to a supplement for missed biodiversity in a balanced grazing diet. Sugar is bad for horses teeth, so it is best to keep it to a minimum. If you take well enough care of your horse’s teeth at home, your horse will be better off.

A Foals First Dental Check Up

For a foal’s first check-in, the equine dentist will check to make sure his/her teeth are aligned the right way. Crooked alignment can cause problems in chewing and digestion for your horse. All the dentist will need is a quiet place and any pocket flashlight. The two types of problems that produce crooked, out of place teeth are sow mouth (overshot lower jaw) and parrot mouth (undershot lower jaw). The foal might also have “wolf teeth” also known as tushes (pointy teeth in the gap between the incisors and molars that grow in when a horse’s age is between five and twelve), which must be removed as soon as possible otherwise it will cause pain and bleeding in the horse’s gums.

Foal dental health

“Preventative medicine is the cheapest and best medicine when it comes to horse dental care.” 

Bi-annual Examinations are a Necessity 

At two years, bi-annual examinations are necessary. The dentist will require a quiet, somewhat dark place, a focused, bright light, some warm water, a speculum, (device for holding a horse’s mouth open) and possibly a mild sedative. First, the equine dentist will wash out all the food and dirt in the horse’s mouth with some warm water. Next, he/she will check for problems in its mouth, such as odors, inflammation, ulceration, laceration, malocclusion, tushes, capped teeth, spurs and any missing, loose, or fractured teeth. If any of the above appears, the dentist will use the speculum to hold the horse’s mouth open to fix the problem. These check-ins will continue until the horse is five years in age. 

Adult Horses Require Dental Care 

After the horse is five, it will require a yearly check-in at minimum. When the horse’s age is past fifteen, its molars will start to wear down or its teeth will fall out, and he/she will struggle while eating hard foods. It is recommended to feed it soft foods in addition to a supplement for missed biodiversity in a balanced grazing diet.

Hero's dental check

How To Check Your Horse’s Teeth

An equine dentist or large animal veterinarian might charge from 20 to 180 dollars per check-in, so be sure to include this in a cost of ownership budget. In addition to regular dental checkups, here are some things you can do at home to ensure proper care.

1. Check Incisors

Once a week, check your horse’s mouth by carefully peeling the upper lip up and the bottom lip down. You will only be able to see the incisors, dental equipment is required to view further. If your horse’s teeth are looking really filthy, you can try using a toothbrush and toothpaste, though some clean water and fresh grass work very well too. Adult horses have 36-44 total teeth, make sure your horse isn’t missing any, and that both sides of his/her mouth are even. Do not attempt to remove any tushes or even spikes and spurs, the equine dentists will take care of that professionally.

2. Check Breath 

Lastly, smell your horse’s breath for bad odors and check for unnatural colors and swelling in gums, both signs that let you know there is something wrong with the gums.

3. Use Preventative Medicine/Supplements

Even with the best of care, problems can arise due to poor diet or an unbalanced digestive system. Fortunately, there are digestive supplements for horses to help correct imbalances in a horse microbiome. In conclusion, preventative medicine is the cheapest and best medicine when it comes to equine dental care.

Contributor. “How to Clean Horses’ Teeth.” Animals, 5 Feb. 2019, animals.mom.me/how-to-clean-horses-teeth-12116506.html. “Equine Dental Care: What Every Horse Owner Should Know | AAEP.” Home, aaep.org/horsehealth/equine-dental-care-what-every-horse-owner-should-know. Nelson, Melissa. “How to Take Proper Care of Your Horse’s Teeth.” WikiHow, WikiHow, 27 May 2019, m.wikihow.com/Take-Proper-Care-of-Your-Horse’s-Teeth.

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