+ What are the signs that my horse needs dental attention?
Your horse starts to change their eating habits. The horse may dribble feed, wash feed in the water bucket, hold the head to the side or not eat at all.
It's breath might be unpleasant and may have a swollen face. The horse may roll the hay into a ball and drop it on the ground, this is quidding.
Please be aware that there may be no obvious signs of dental disease and hence regular treatment and check up is advised.
+ How often does my horse or pony need dental check ups?
Dental care should start as a yearling to remove sharp edges and identify any future problems.
After the first visit your Equine Dental Technician will recommend an individual dental maintenance plan of usually 6 monthly or 9 monthly; your Equine Dentist will advise you accordingly.
+ Why do Equines' teeth become sharp?
The upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw (anisognathism) and chewing occurs in a mostly sideways-circular motion. This can lead to sharp edges on the outside of the upper cheek teeth and the inside edges of the lower cheek teeth. Horses diets have changed over the years becoming more and more processed and this may exacerbate and accelerate dental problems.
+ Why do horses need their teeth checked by an Equine Dental Technician, when wild horses cope without it?
Breeding – Over several thousand years we have been selectively breeding the horse for attractive traits such as speed or ability to jump. What we have not done however, is to selectively breed horses to have good dentition and so, unlike the wild horse, there is no survival of the fittest. Horses that would not be able to survive in the wild are used to breed and so we have actually bred dental problems into the horse.
Feeding- The teeth of the horse are also anisognathic in nature, which means that the mandibular teeth are narrower than the maxillary teeth. The horse eats on one side of its mouth at a time in the following motion. The lower jaw drops down and out to the side. It then moves up, crushing the food between the teeth and finally moves back to the start point, grinding the food between the teeth. Sharp enamel spikes develop on the outside edges of the upper teeth and the inside edges of the lower teeth when the horse does not move its lower jaw far enough to the side and these areas of the teeth are not worn down. It has been proven that there is less lateral movement of the lower jaw when the horse is fed concentrates and this causes the enamel overgrowths to develop much more quickly. We sometimes our horses in high mangers or hay nets and so the horse will be eating with its head in an unnatural position with the lower jaw slid backwards. This causes the front of the upper rows of cheek teeth and the back of the lower rows of cheek teeth to receive insufficient wear and these areas can become protuberant, forming hooks or ramps.
We ride our horses - It is essential that the rostro-caudal (forward and back) movement of the mandible is not limited by overgrowths. Normally, the mandible should slide forwards as the horse lowers its head and back when it raises its head. Any overgrowth such as hooks on the first upper cheek teeth or on the last lower cheek teeth will inhibit this movement and the horse will often open its mouth to allow its mandible to slide forwards. Unfortunately, this is often seen as a sign of evasion and commonly the horse will be forced to keep its mouth shut by use of a tight noseband and it is possible that this can cause pain in the tempero-mandibular joint, the neck and the back.
Wolf teeth can also cause problems in the ridden horse as they are situated in front of the first cheek teeth, in the same area as the bit. They are not present in all horses and are often lost when the first permanent cheek tooth erupts. There is considerable debate over whether wolf teeth should be removed, and some certainly do not cause a problem and may not need to be removed. In certain cases though, such as when the tooth is displaced, very sharp, broken, blind or on the lower jaw, they will usually need to be extracted.
Longevity - The domestic horse lives much longer than its wild ancestors and so its teeth must also last much longer.
+ How long does it take?
Each horse takes in the region of 45 minutes to an hour to do properly, though it can often take a little longer, the first time I see the horse.
+ What equipment should I expect my Equine Dental Technician to use?
The following equipment may be used by your equine dental technician for an equine oral examination and routine equine dentistry: Full mouth speculum (gag) Dental head torch or light Dental mirror Dental picks and probes Full set of rasps (floats) Power instruments Headstand .
+ What are Wolf Teeth?
Wolf teeth are small, peg-like equine teeth that sit just in front of the first cheek teeth of horses. They have no function and if present are normally found in the maxilla (upper jaw), although mandibular (lower jaw) wolf teeth are found very occasionally. They are often shed when the deciduous 2nd premolar is shed at around two and a half years of age. They may also be knocked out by the bit if particularly loose or when routine equine dentistry is performed. They are extremely variable in size from being small pegs only a couple of millimetres in diameter to having roots up to two centimetres long. Studies suggest that they normally erupt between birth and 18 months. It is impossible to gauge the size of the root from an examination of the crown, except to say that if the crown is mobile it is very unlikely that there is a large intact root. Blind wolf teeth are wolf teeth that are present but may not have erupted through the gum. They may remain completely underneath the gingiva.
British Equine Veterinary Association BEVA Approved and BEVA Examiner www.beva.org.uk
British Veterinary Dental Association BVDA Approved and BVDA Examiner www.bvda.co.uk Founding
member of The British Association of Equine Dental Technicians. www.baedt.com.