Caring for Your Horse’s Teeth
The American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends providing horses with a veterinary oral and dental examination at least once per year. For those who are younger than five or over the age of 20, more frequent exams may be necessary. The same is true for horses with known dental issues.
For younger horses, more frequent dental exams are necessary as the young horse is undergoing dramatic changes in the mouth as their adult teeth emerge. Senior horses, on the other hand, are at a greater risk of developing dental disease than their younger counterparts due to the structural changes that occur with age.
Of course, all horses have a better chance of maintaining their health and living a longer life if their teeth receive proper care and if issues are addressed. For most horses, the proper bite and chewing surfaces can be maintained with a procedure known as “floating”. In this procedure, the practitioner uses hand tools to smooth the sharp points from the cheek teeth.
These tools, which look like rasps and files, are used along with motorized equipment. Intravenous sedation may be necessary for this and for the oral examination, as it may be necessary to insert a full-mouth speculum to hold the horse’s mouth open so the veterinarian can see and care for the teeth properly.