Part of an exam includes a visual dental check. This check can only evaluate the front part of the mouth without sedation or a speculum for most horses. Many horses resent their tongue being pulled to allow the premolars and molars to be seen so many will require sedation and a speculum to safely hold the horses mouth open.
Given that the horse has two sets of teeth (deciduous and permanent) that erupt over a five-year period, that the cheek teeth don’t meet perfectly, and that even the permanent teeth continue to erupt over the lifetime of the horse, it should not be surprising to learn that horses come with built-in dental problems. Some of the most common include:
- Retained caps (deciduous teeth that are not shed at the right time)
- Sharp points on the cheek teeth, which can cause cuts of the cheek and tongue
- Misalignment affecting individual teeth (called hooks, ramps, steps, and waves)
- Lost and/or fractured teeth
- Excessively worn teeth
- Abnormally long teeth
- Infected teeth and/or gum
Wolf teeth in young horses are also something to be evaluated for and removed prior to starting bit work. The teeth have a very shallow root and can be irritated with a bit, causing head tossing and resistance in horses.
Bit seat are often performed on the front premolars to allow the bit to ride better in the mouth.
Once the mouth is rinsed and evaluated we use a power float to smooth out any sharp or hooks and points. Each took is manually evaluated for any sensitivity and fractures. The power float is generally well tolerated once the horses are sedated.
Barns are recommended for appointments in inclement weather.