At Alpine Animal Hospital, we are committed to maximizing the quality and longevity of your horses’ lives. Because the mouth and teeth are vitally important for general health, we emphasize dental health as a priority. Dr. Louise Marron is a Board Certified Veterinary Dental Specialist. She can provide both basic and advanced treatment options for your horse’s oral care.
Horses need a different kind of regular preventive dental care than dogs, cats, and people. Horses’ teeth have an eruption rate of 2 to 3 mm per year. This means the teeth continually grow into the mouth and must correspondingly wear down, by grinding on course fibrous food, at the same rate. Malocclusions, or improper position of the teeth, can lead to irregular wear patterns and can negatively impact periodontal health, resulting in painful oral disease.
Before dental care is provided, it is important for your horse to have a comprehensive oral exam, facilitated by sedation, a speculum, a light, and a mirror or camera. Information acquired during the examination will guide specific therapeutic procedures. Dental floating removes irregular, unworn, sharp points from the cheek teeth and adjusts the chewing surfaces as necessary. If present, periodontal disease should also be addressed when your horse is sedated to have his teeth floated.
Some horses show no noticeable signs because they instinctually adapt to their discomfort. Waiting too long for treatment may significantly increase the complexity of treatment needed.
A list of clinical signs associated with dental problems includes:
- nasal discharge or facial swelling
- dropping feed from mouth while eating
- weight loss
- foul odor from mouth or nostrils
- difficulty chewing or excess salivation
- large, undigested food particles in manure
- head tilting or tossing, bit chewing, tongue rolling
- fighting the bit or resisting the bridle
- bucking or failing to stop or turn
When a horse has a dental injury, such as a fractured tooth, treatment can pose many challenges. These challenges can typically be overcome by the application of various techniques and specialized equipment which require advanced education and skill to master. It is critical to remove all parts of any injured teeth and it can be difficult to do so without damaging adjacent anatomical structures or neighboring because of their close proximity.
Horse owners often seek the expert advice of a dental specialist when they want to know all the options for oral care or to receive a second opinion. It is always ok to talk with your veterinarian about the level of dentistry & anesthesia they offer and ask if your horse would benefit from a consultation with a Veterinary Dental Specialist.
The title of Board-Certified Veterinary Dentist signifies the veterinarian has been certified by the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) Board as having demonstrated specialist knowledge and expertise in veterinary dentistry. This is only possible after the completion of the rigorous AVDC training requirements (a process that takes several years) and successfully passing the AVDC examination.