Dental health is an important component of your horse's overall health.
Dental health can play a role in everything, from your horse's absorption of food to his or her life expectancy. As a concerned horse owner, you may be wondering what you should do to keep your horse's teeth healthy, and what sorts of conditions you will need to be on the lookout for during your horse's life.
The Horse Dental Checkup
If you're wondering whether or not your horse may be having dental problems, you should pay attention to the way he or she chews food. You may also notice changes in his or her behaviour that could point you in the right direction.
Signs and symptoms
Your horse may already be showing signs of dental problems.
Some of the Signs are:
• weight loss
• excessive salivation
• slow and laboured eating
• dropping bits of half-chewed food
• unusually coarse manure
Symptoms may include:
• fussing with the bit
• avoidance of bit contact
• irritation when put into a dropped noseband
• head tucking or head tossing
• not wanting to have his face and muzzle handled
Sometimes unexplained colic’s which have no apparent cause can be traced back to dental problems. Additionally, young horses will often experience discomfort when shedding their deciduous (baby) teeth or caps and lumps will often appear under the jawbones while the new teeth are trying to erupt, and they may need assistance to remove them.
Horses' teeth grow continuously all of their lives, especially in the early years. They are also constantly being worn down due to the grinding action horses use to chew their feed. Raised edges may appear along the edges of the molars - typically along the outside of the upper set and the inside of the lower set. These edges can be quite razor-like, actually cutting deep into one's finger when rubbed across them while inspecting the mouth. They often cut into the horse's cheeks when they chew and cause soreness where a bit or halter pushes the cheek against a sharp tooth. In some cases, a horse may have to chew unnaturally in an attempt to grind up his food. This action can often result in increased uneven wear on the teeth and in some cases generate significant excess pressure on one or more tooth which can result in serious complications.
A professional equine dentist should be engaged on a regular basis according to your horse's age and if any of the above symptoms are observed. Following is generalized recommended periods for dental check-ups on your horse's teeth:
Birth – 18 months(should be examined at least once a year)
18-52 months (should be examined twice a year)
4-10 years (should be examined once a year)
10-18 years (should be examined once a year)
18 and older (may need frequent oral exams and dental maintenance to keep the mouth healthy)
A horse with regularly maintained teeth will ensure less in feeding costs and a healthy horse in general. For a healthy horse, additional Herbs & Supplements can be found here.