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AVS recommends every horse have an oral exam once a year. Twice yearly exams are appropriate for senior horses or horses with specific dental malformations such as parrot mouth, under bites, or missing teeth. A complete oral exam requires light sedation and a speculum to hold the horse’s mouth open. Many owners appreciate the opportunity to look into their horse’s mouth and we encourage you to take a look or feel. Although not as thorough (it won’t assess the back half of the mouth as well), we are able to perform a brief oral exam without the sedation and speculum. Many oral exams are completed at the time of spring and fall vaccination appointments and can be easily done on the farm or in our clinic. Many dental problems can be caught early with oral exams, before the horse shows signs of trouble.
Floating teeth is the process of removing sharp points and overgrowths allowing the horse to have a normal chewing motion without pain. (Did you know that horse’s teeth grow most of their life?) Horses will be sedated for this procedure for our safety and yours. We use traditional hand floats as well as motorized instruments. Floats can be done in and out of house but we highly encourage horses to be brought into the clinic. With dentals being done in house there can be quicker results with having access to additional tools.
Some horses require very little dental work throughout their life, while others may have alignment problems or missing teeth and therefore require floating as often as every six months. By performing a physical exam, diet evaluation and a complete oral exam your veterinarian can tell you what dental care is best for your horse. Even horses as young as six months are recommended to have a checkup. Regular dental care is one of the best things you can do for your horse’s comfort and longevity, and is more cost-effective then trying to correct major problems that took years to develop before they were detected.
There are times when a horse's tooth must be removed due to a root abscess or fracture. A vast majority of young horses require their Wolf Teeth to be removed to they don’t interfere with the bit in the future. Tooth removal in horses can be very complicated. Some may require overnight stays and/or general anesthesia depending on which tooth must be removed. Radiographs are required to insure the correct tooth is removed and there are no other teeth affected by an infection or fracture.
Signs that your horse may have a serious tooth abscess or fracture are: reluctance to eat, uneven swelling of the face (Cheeks or jaw), and weight loss. Please call for an appointment immediately if you see any of these signs.