Horse's teeth begin to erupt in the first few days after birth and continue to erupt throughout the horse's life. Dental problems can occur at any age from problems with temporary (baby) teeth not shedding, to cavities and cracked cheek teeth in adult life.
It is essential therefore that your horse's mouth and teeth are examined on a regular basis, ideally every 6-12 months depending on their age, use and whether there are any existing dental problems. The back of a horse's mouth is difficult to examine so in order to perform a detailed examination a gag is required to improve accessibility. Some horses tolerate this procedure well but it is not uncommon that sedation is required.
Donnington Place Equine Vets has a good working relationship with the local qualified Equine Dental Technicians (EDT's) but please be aware that the legislation around EDT's is under rigorous review. It is advised by our governing body, the Royal college of veterinary surgeons, that hand floating (tooth rasping) is the only dental procedure that can be carried out by an unqualified EDT. Only veterinary surgeons or qualified equine dental technicians can perform dental techniques involving power tools (power floating). Any surgical procedure where sensitive tissue (i.e. gums) are involved is deemed as an act of veterinary surgery and so can ONLY be performed by a veterinary surgeon.
For this reason, Donnington Place Equine Vets can only sedate horses under these recommendations. To avoid any confusion please check whether your EDT has undergone in depth training and passed the required qualifications to perform power floating by checking on www.beva.org.uk or www.baedt.com. Under no circumstance should intravenous sedation be administered to your horse by anyone but a qualified veterinary surgeon. If you have any queries regarding EDT qualification, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01628 950700.
The commonest dental condition that needs regular management is caused by the horse's natural anatomy. The horse's upper jaw is wider than his lower jaw so as the surfaces of the teeth are worn naturally whilst grinding food over time, the teeth are worn unevenly resulting in the cheek teeth developing very sharp edges and hooks on the front and back cheek teeth. Left unchecked, these can lead to lacerations and ulcers in the adjacent mucosa of the mouth leaving the horse in a lot of discomfort when eating.
Other dental problems frequently seen include:
Everyone as some point experiences the terrible pain that is 'toothache'. We can only assume that horses suffer a similar pain leading to a variety of clinical signs which could indicate a dental problem:
If you have any queries regarding your horse's teeth or require more information, please call the clinic on 01628 950700.