Horse Dental Problems & Solutions
Help stop pet dental pain
Annual Horse Dental Exams
Peak performance and harmony between horse and rider go hand in hand with regular dental care and attention to any developing problems before they become serious enough to affect the horse’s health or compromise its well-being.
The most important solution to horse dental problems is to make sure they get dental checkups. Annual dental checkups are vital for the health and overall well-being of your horse.
What You Can Do
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Common Horse Dental Problems and Solutions
Solution This abnormal wear, when mild, can be corrected by floating. However, floating on incisors should always be done with care. Also, the originating cause should be treated.
Sharp Enamel Points
Solution: Float the horses teeth to remove the sharp enamel points. Also, introduce fibrous feed in the horse’s diet, such as hay and grass, to enforce the complete sideways chewing motion, to prevent the return of enamel points.
Solution: Usually, the hooks will need to be floated. The underlying causes (diet, overbites, underbites, or other malocclusion problems) should also be fixed whenever possible to prevent the reappearance of hooks.
Solution: Usually the ramp will need to be floated until the opposing tooth grows over time.
Solution: Cutting or rasping the overgrown teeth to recover growth in opposing teeth. However, this condition can be difficult to fully correct and will require periodic maintenance.
Excessive Transverse Ridges
Solution: Reduce (float) the accentuated ridges to allow opposing teeth to recover from excessive wear. This may require two or three sessions to fully correct.
Solution: Correction of the occlusal surface both on the affected cheek teeth and the incisors that were also affected. This correction will require several interventions over time.
Solution: Usually in these cases the problematic caps are removed by a qualified veterinarian. This is why seeing the veterinarian once a year is so important! It's the only way to stop these problems before they get really bad.
Horse Dental Diseases
Solution: The best solution is prevention by having regular dental checks, just like we do. This will allow to detect caries in the early stages, which can be fixed by putting a fill in the tooth. In more advanced cases where caries have led to secondary problems such as fractures, pulp infections, and periodontal disease. These will need to be treated.
Horse Periodontal Disease
Solution: The first step is to clean the trapped food from the tooth and control the bacteria to prevent further disease progression and destruction of the periodontium. This may require several interventions until the infection is resolved. The gaps that allow entrapment of food should be treated: 1) Diastema should be widened to allow the food to pass through without getting trapped 2) Periodontal pockets should be cleaned and bleed to stimulate the formation of new tissue to fill the pocket. Dental overgrowths and malocclusions can be an important contributor to periodontal disease. In these cases, their correction should be part of the treatment. If the disease has progressed too far, then the tooth may need to be extracted. This is why annual horse dental checkups are so important! Seeing the veterinarian once a year is the only way to stop this disease before it gets really bad.
Teething Bumps In Horses
Solution: Usually, the problem will correct itself as the permanent teeth gradually force their way up (when the retained cap has fallen or the jaw grows longer, leaving room for the new tooth). The bumps will eventually disappear. However if an infection has set in it should be treated by the veterinary. When possible the causing problem should also be fixed such as removing the retained cap.
Displacements In Horse’s Teeth
Solution: If the cause of displacement is the retained deciduous tooth, then its removal should be considered. If the displacement is causing severe problems that cannot be corrected, then the displaced tooth’s extraction may be necessary. This is usually only performed in older horses.
Teeth Diastema In Horses
Solution: The first action is to remove the trapped food. Next there are several options which include: 1) Widening the diastema to allow the food to move in and out of the gap without getting trapped easily. 2) Place a dental impression putty into the gap to close it and allow healing of the gum. 3) Fix the source of the problem, such as removing the displaced tooth. 4) Reduce overgrowth of opposing teeth.
Congenital Teeth Disorders In Horses
Parrot-mouth – hooks/ramps on second upper premolars and third lower molars.
Sow-mouth – hooks/ramps on second lower premolars and third upper molars.
Solution: Floating the overgrown teeth. Orthodontic correction in severe cases, but is only effective when the horse is still young.
Fractured Teeth In Horses
Solution: The treatment will depend on the severity of the fracture and the underlying disease. The fractures can be treated by removing the small pieces or floating the sharp edges. The length of the opposing tooth may also need to be shortened. Sometimes it is necessary to remove the tooth
Missing Teeth In Horses
Solution: A missing horse tooth is a condition that cannot be fully treated, but it needs to be managed. Adapt the horse’s diet, so the horse is not so dependent on the chewing process to digest the food. Regular dental appointments to detect and treat any secondary problems caused by missing teeth: 1) Fix abnormal wear patterns. 2) Treat any infections developed in the tooth socket.
Solution: When possible the extra teeth should be extracted to allow the other teeth to erupt and align correctly. Secondary problems, such as overgrowth, a diastema, and periodontal disease should be treated.
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Sadly most horse owners still don’t even know that their horses need dental care or that they are suffering from constant pain. Help us spread the word about the importance of horse dental care. Help stop horse dental pain!