Equine dental care is important to maintain horse teeth and a horse's health, just as with humans. Horses chew and grind their food and any problem can create nutritional and other health issues. Horses' teeth grow until the age of about twenty-five. Wild horses eat wild tough grass and wear their teeth out naturally. Confined horses are given alfalfa hay and the like which are softer and do not wear the teeth out sufficiently and evenly. This in turn creates uneven sharp edges, which can cut the tongue and cheek in addition to preventing proper chewing of the grass. An examination of the teeth can also determine the age of a horse and should be checked when you do your purchase exam to make sure the horse is the age that the seller is representing.
Each Horse is Different
Most veterinarians recommend dental procedures and checkups every six to twelve months. A complete dental examination includes thorough examination with checks for infection, malocclusion, loose teeth, dental irregularities or any other dental problems. Each horse will be different as to how the teeth grow. Regular equine dental check up will determine if your horse's teeth need some attention. Mostly, all that will be needed is to float the teeth. Floating the teeth is done by attaching a brace that opens the horse's jaw and keeps it open. The vet can then take a drill or file and grind down the teeth that are long or pointed and sharp. Diseased teeth must be extracted and tooth surfaces shaped and or filled. Most horses need a mild sedative to withstand this procedure. It is not painful for the horse, just uncomfortable and loud. Male horses have wolf teeth that are disappearing in the evolution of equine teeth. They were used mostly for fighting and defending his herd. These teeth sometimes cause problems with the bit and need to be extracted. Just as with humans, the vet will record all the procedures performed and irregularities corrected or observed as a reference base for future use.
Veterinarian Care and When to Call
All horse owners must be sensitive to the dental needs of their horses. Horse teeth problems must be anticipated along with other problems and the necessary funds for the treatment budgeted for. Owners must also be able to recognize the symptoms in their horse of signs indicating emerging dental problems. These signs include shyness, dull coat, head tossing, weight loss, foul breath, unwillingness to eat, poor performance, excessive salivation, facial swelling, refusal to take lead and throat impaction among others. Any of these signs is a sure cause for immediate veterinary assistance and a dental check up for the horse.
Prevention is Better Than the Cure
Getting the horse to the height of its performance levels does not just happen but is a result of constant and continuous care. Care must be regular and not sporadic in order to keep the horse in optimum health conditions. Regular checkups can stop the problem from escalating to serious situations that could even result in the death of the horse. Prevention is always better than cure.
Always remember that to maintain the horse functioning at the optimum level, it must receive the proper and adequate nutrition according to its breed, age and function. The horse must receive all its immunization vaccines, given to immunize it against serious, transmittable, infectious diseases that include influenza, encephalitis, tetanus and rabies amongst others. The owner or handler must check the mouth for sores regularly. During this check, the cheeks must be palpated to check for unevenly worn, pointed edges in the teeth. Check for raw gums and any other oral problems. Call the vet immediately if any condition is noted so that the horse can get immediate attention. Always have the vet's telephone numbers handy and a substitute vet for any emergencies.
Regular checkups and preventive dental care will help maintain a horse, their teeth and promotes a healthy and problem free horse, giving the owner years of good service.