Routine dentistry is of paramount importance to maintain the health of your horse’s mouth. A thorough examination, preferably under sedation, should be carried out at least once a year. The emphasis with good dental care is on prevention and early treatment of problems, often before horses start to show clinical signs of a problem. Due to their genetic instinct as ‘prey’ animals horses are exceptionally good at disguising dental pain and will usually change their eating pattern to cope with any developing problems. Consequently, horses with even quite severe dental issues can often be symptomless and signs like ‘quidding’ or weight loss can represent chronic problems in the mouth.
Tor Equine provides a modern approach to all aspects of equine dentistry. Routine dental care combined with advanced dental techniques enables us to maintain your horse’s oral health to the highest standard. As qualified veterinary surgeons we are able to sedate horses to facilitate a more thorough oral examination and precise rasping of the teeth. We can also administer intravenous anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics if needed.
Equine veterinary dentistry is not just about “rasping teeth”. It involves the diagnosis of routine findings and pathological conditions within the horse’s mouth and the appropriate treatment as required. A routine visit from Tor equine to assess your horse’s mouth will involve:
- Examination of the outside of the whole head to identify asymmetry or signs of pain and to assess the horse’s grinding/ chewing action.
- A thorough, methodical visual and physical examination of both the teeth and soft tissues inside the mouth using palpation, a mirror, dental probes and a fine dental pick.
- Identification and investigation of any abnormalities such as gaps between teeth (diastema), cavities in the teeth (caries), food pocketing and regression of the gingiva, pain associated with the ligament that holds the tooth in place (periodontal disease) and loose teeth.
- Careful reduction of any sharp enamel points, usually on the buccal (cheek) upper and lingual (tongue) lower aspects of the teeth, and balancing of the dental arcades using the battery powered dental float.
Is sedation always required?
Initial assessment of a patient is usually performed without sedation (unless an owner warns us that their horse is particularly nervous about having their teeth looked at). This helps us better identify any painful reactions. Usually, we then give a small amount of sedation so that a more thorough examination of the mouth can be done. Use of the mirror is vital to identify most problems and an unsedated horse will constantly try to ‘flick’ the mirror away with its tongue which means that even some quite advanced problems can be missed. The sedation also allows the horse to quietly rest its head on the dental stand and remain still whilst the battery powered float is used. Wrestling to keep a horse’s head up or still reduces the ability to do a good job. We are aware that it is often cost that prejudices people against the use of sedation and as such Tor Equine have kept the cost of sedation as low as possible. Those horses on the Equine Health Plan have sedation for free during the annual routine examination. Quiet horses can have their teeth rasped without sedation if owners understand the limitations that this creates.