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Horse Dentistry

Our veterinary team carries out routine dental care at your premises.

We float arcades and remove retained deciduous and wolf teeth etc, under sedation, when necessary.

We have our own extensive equipment including power tools. However some horses have more profound problems and it may be beneficial for your horse or pony to work with a trained equine dentist over a period of time to correct and improve ramps or malocclusions. These procedures are of particular advantage to our older patients when often their quality of life can be dramatically improved.

Dental Problems in the Horse

Denatl xray shows malocclusion of tooth

Equine Dental Disorders are quite common - up to 80% of horses could be suffering from dental disease.

Horses and Ponies when left to their own devices, in the New Forest for example, are a continuous grazers. Grass is selected with the lips, cut with the front teeth (incisors) and then moved back with the tongue to the cheek teeth (pre molars and molars).

Grinding of roughage is done with a side-to-side motion of the jaw.

The forces of wear are matched by the continuous eruption of the teeth. The upper cheek teeth and the lower cheek teeth (6 on each side) will normally wear one another and are in effect acting as one big tooth. Any malocclusion or disease involving individual teeth effects the function of the entire arcade.

Due to the natural side to side movement and the fact that the lower arcade of molars are usually less far apart than the upper, the edges of the molar teeth may not wear at the same rate as the center of the tooth, resulting in the edges becoming very sharp. Sharp edges on the outside (buccal) may damage the inside of the cheek and on the inside (lingual), the tongue. Regular rasping of the teeth will correct this.

Other problems occur with the incisor and molar teeth. Symptoms and problems are listed at www.equinedentistry.co.uk. Problems with the molars include hooks, ramps, waves, transverse ridges, retained caps and diseased, decayed or rotten teeth.

Signs of Dental Disease

Diseases of the teeth may present as an obvious dental or as a general problem and include:

  • Abnormal eating behaviour (head tilting, dropping of food, excessive salivation)
  • A bad odour from the mouth
  • Refusal to eat, eating more slowly or refusal of some types of food
  • Long hay stalks being passed in the dung
  • Loss of weight or condition
  • Swellings under the jaw or on the side of the face
  • Discharge from the nostril (often on one side only) or jaw
  • Resistance to be being bridled
  • Head tilt when being ridden or lunged
  • Difficulty in maintaining an outline or remaining on the bit
  • Head shaking
  • "Bridle lameness"
  • Slowness in making transitions
  • Chewing of the bit etc.

It is recommended that you have your horse's mouth checked every 6 – 12 months by one of our equine vets. We can do this at the time of your routine annual vaccination, or a qualified equine dental technician may be used. It is also important to remember that in younger horses permanent teeth are erupting which can lead to many problems, many of which can be corrected.

The equine vets in the practice are able to diagnose and correct many of these dental problems. We can also use sedation when required to assist examination and treatment. When necessary we involve a qualified member of the British Equine Dental Association. This is especially the case when specialized powered instruments are required for the procedure.

The local members that we normally work with are:

  • Martin Walls - Tel 01962 777790
  • Greg Wood - Tel 02380 692671

A full list of members can be viewed on the BEVA website at www.beva.org.uk

Animed Veterinary Group is part of CVS (UK) Limited, a company which owns over 300 veterinary practices in the UK. Company Registration Number 03777473. Registered Office CVS House, Owen Road, Diss, Norfolk, IP22 4ER