One of the first things many owners do after they purchase a new horse is organise a dental check. Would it not make a lot more sense to have a thorough pre-purchase dental exam and determine any potential issues before you part with your hard-earned money?
When your horse has dental work done, it shouldn’t matter whether he is a valuable finely tuned competitive horse, a brood mare, a paddock mate, or the pony that safely guides your child around the gymkhana on a Sunday; the last thing you want is to cause your horse pain, or make him suffer. Whenever a dental exam or dental procedure needs to be carried out in a horse, unless adequate pain relief including nerve block are used the horse feels everything, just like we do.
Anyone living in an area where horse’s are affected by Big Head should read this article carefully. Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism or “Big Head” affects the mineralisation of tissues including the facial bones, lower jaw and the teeth. By the time your horse displays visible signs of the disease, serious changes have occurred that are lifelong. Initially the first visible sign of a problem may be lumps or bumps on your horse’s head.
It has often been remarked ‘no feet no horse’ and it is equally true to say ‘no teeth no horse’. As horses are now living longer and as we have more and more geriatric horses it is important to understand the dental needs of older horses. Horses have a different type of tooth to humans, one that is designed to wear down over time, so the teeth of horses have a lifespan and as horses reach their twenties and thirties their teeth will begin to wear down.
From miniatures to draft breeds, working stallions require regular dental examinations and dental care to identify and treat dental disease. Serious dental disease in stallions can present in a range of different ways from no outward sign at all, through to serious weight loss, bad breath and performance issues when ridden. Hard working and performance stallions need to be able comfortably consume enough feed to maintain optimum condition through the breeding season.
All horses need regular dental care, and this especially true of older horses. Older horses (like older people) undergo changes in their metabolism and often undergo changes in body shape. When older horses lose weight it can be very hard to regain and the impact that dental disease has on losing condition can be severe.
Advances in dental veterinary practice mean that congenital dental abnormalities such as malocclusion (parrot and sow mouth), cleft palate and wry nose, which severely affect a horse’s ability to graze efficiently, can now be corrected.
An introduction to dental care for horses How many of you have experienced dental pain? a cavity, a broken or infected tooth, an ulcer? If you have then you know that dental pain can be severe, debilitating and constant. But did you know that horses suffer all of the dental conditions that we do, as well as many of their own? Horses often suffer in silence because they are prey animals and don’t like to show signs of weakness, couple this with the fact that if you don’t eat you die, and you get a pretty good picture of why horses give little sign of their problems.
The dental care of all horses is an integral part of their health care and so it is somewhat surprising that when a horse moves from competition to breeding this very important part of their care is sometimes overlooked or incorrectly managed. Lets look at some common mistakes... Broodmares and sedation While most well managed stud farms have a dental care program designed by an equine dental vet it is still a common misconception that using sedation to relax a mare during her dental should be avoided.
Proper, regular dental care is important for all horses, regardless of age, size or use, and especially for miniatures, who have a smaller bone structure but teeth essentially similar in size to a larger horse. This commonly results in problems with overcrowding and impaction The Benefits of Regular Care The benefits provided by proper dental care include being able to maximise the FCR or Feed Conversion Ratio, in simple terms this means the horse is getting the maximum benefit from the feed it is eating.