Having your horse's teeth checked is an important part of their care. You should ensure they have routine dental checks by a vet or qualified EDT.
Routine checks for an adult horse should be done at least once a year. Elderly horses (aged 20 years+) should have more regular checks. If you notice any signs of weight loss, difficulty eating or quidding (dropping food) you should get your vet or EDT to check their teeth. As horses age, they can lose teeth and begin to develop dental issues; this is why it is even more important to ensure your horse has routine dental checks.
Here are some signs that may indicate your horse is in need of a dental examination:
- Change in eating- slow, less or eating on one side of their mouth
- Resistance to tacking up/ bitting
- Change in ridden behaviour- rearing, bolting, bucking, head tilting, head shaking, mouth open, irregular head carriage
- Discharge from one or two nostrils
- Face swelling or pouching (feed in cheeks)
- Aggressive behaviour on the ground
Often, horses are very good at working and eating through pain, and so it is important that they have their dental examinations even if you haven’t noticed any change.
During a dental examination the vet or equine dentist can check for:
- Sharp edges
- Wolf teeth
- Gum disease
- Fractures or damages
If you have any concerns you should contact your vet for advice.
Fleur’s dental operation
Fleur, one of our ponies, had her routine dental in January as usual. Freya, the vet who was undertaking the dental examination, identified a fractured tooth. Fleur had shown no signs of discomfort, weight loss or any change in eating habits so the whole team were surprised.
After identifying the fracture they took x-rays of the area which revealed an infection in the tooth root. Fleur was taken into the practice and James Roxburgh of Equine Veterinary Dentist performed an extraction of the fractured tooth. He used a minimally invasive trans buccal technique under standing sedation.
Had this not been identified at the early stages it is likely that a painful sinusitis and nasal discharge would have occurred.
Fleur’s story shows the importance of having your horses teeth checked regularly to pick up on any problems before they get worse.