Dental Care

ALEX: Dental care is extremely important with horses starting at a very young age. It’s something that, in a barn — if your horse is not eating well or if he has foodstuff coming out of his mouth — it’s something that needs to be addressed because if he can’t have the proper intake of hay and/or grain, then it’s not a healthy situation for them.

So it’s important to get with your veterinarian that could find you a good person to do teeth and to check out to see if there are any serious problems.

STEVE: Well, the first thing you need to look at, as far as dental conditions, are something as basic or simple as, when you first get your horse or when you have a foal, look at their mouth to make sure as their teeth erupt that they’re even.

What happens is there’s a simple problem, it’s a genetic problem, where they have a complete overbite where the upper arcade completely overrides the lower and that’s called a parrot mouth, meaning that it should be like a parrot’s beak where it overrides the lower arcade. The problem you have is that this horse from then on will have trouble procuring food to some extent.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some really good racehorses that have raced and done well over the years, but certain breeds, it disqualifies them to be in confirmation or genetic perpetuators because it’s considered to be a confirmation abnormality.

So a parrot mouth would be one. Obviously, regular care as far as shedding their deciduous teeth and caps, which is where the deciduous teeth erupted and are being pushed out where the permanent teeth are coming in behind them; this happens from the time they are a yearling to the time when they are 5, 5 1/2 years old.

After that, basically the wear of the upper and lower arcades will make points — both on the outside of the upper arcade or the inside of the lower arcade — and in addition, you have to keep the incisors even and break where they wear evenly, it makes it easier for them to procure their feed and grass if they graze.

So it’s a continuous, ongoing dynamic situation that has to be monitored twice a year minimum on young horses from the yearling to five and at least once a year from five years of age on.

ALEX: And a person will know obviously if the horse’s teeth are sharp or have issues. To hold a bit in a horse’s mouth, there’s going to be some issues. It’s not going to be comfortable for a horse. So it needs to be addressed from that standpoint as well.