Toothache? Here's How to Tell if It's Time to Call the Dentist

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Just like people, horses need regular dental care and maintenance to ensure healthy and long lasting teeth and gums. Most veterinarians will perform routine dental exams and floating (the process of filing off the sharp edges) during their bi-annual farm calls. But problems can crop up in between visits.

Some of the signs of equine dental discomfort may initially appear as training issues. A horse that tosses his head, for example, may have a sharp tooth. Other signs include head tossing, avoiding contact with the bit, or not wanting to have his face or muzzle handled. A horse that salivates excessively or becomes a hard keeper may be having trouble chewing his food.

Common horse dental problems include (and sound very much like human teeth ailments:

  • Sharp molars that cause rubs and sores on the cheeks and tongue
  • An abscess
  • Tooth and jaw misalignments
  • Wolf teeth may interfere with a bit in his mouth
  • Inflammation of the gums may cause problems from periodontal disease

Horse dental care requires that owners schedule visits with the veterinarian every six months, and for young horses, before they go into training. Ask you vet for a thorough examination if you horse exhibits any of the symptoms above. Just as in humans, dental problems can lead to other, more serious ailments, so a preventive maintenance routine is key to healthy horse teeth.