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Sally Kingsley

Equine Dentistry


Is Floating (rasping) painful?

A routine float should be relatively well tolerated, if the practitioner is skilled in placing the rasp so as to avoid the soft tissues. Horses teeth are less well supplied by nerves than our own, although removing too much of the tooth will be painful, eg. if too much is removed by power tool use. Horses may wriggle when the EDT works right at the back of the mouth, especially if they have a very 'tight' mouth, or protuberant teeth which need attention, but it's important to perform a full treatment and not miss the teeth at the back, so the horse has another 6-9 months of comfort.

What is that you’re using to open the mouth?

Any competent EDT will use a full mouth speculum. Without this, only the first couple of teeth can be examined or treated properly. Most horses tolerate the spec very well. Should someone attempt to treat your horse without one, they are not suitably proficient to be doing his teeth.

At what age is dental care needed?

All foals should have their mouth examined to check for parrot mouth or other congenital abnormality. Subsequently a rasp to remove sharp edges would be good at 2 years of age, but the most important thing is to have the teeth done before bitting in order to avoid any discomfort associated with the bit before you even start riding a youngster. Then every 6 months to 5 years of age, then every 6-9 months till late teens when it may become necessary to see him more frequently again.

How often should the dentist call?

As above.

What about the bit?

I will generally ask to see the bit. Most people put bits which are too thick in their horses’ mouths. If you can only fit a finger between the bars of the mouth, anything thicker will press on the bars, especially if you use a tight noseband. I also find horses go better in bits with tongue relief. However, it's important to appreciate they are all individuals, and whilst one horse may prefer a loose ring lozenge bit, another with similar anatomy might like a straight bar vulcanite d-ring - there's no accounting for taste!

What if I don’t have my horses’ teeth done?

A horse which does not receive regular dentistry, is more likely to develop enamel overgrowths which will lead to restricted function, both in terms of eating and riding. It is more likely to develop a step or wave mouth and therefore a ‘broken mouth’ in later years which cannot be fixed. The teeth are more likely to expire (run out) if abnormalities of wear are allowed to progress unchecked, and therefore may reduce the horse's lifespan.