Poor Teeth

VICTOR: Basically, one of the main things that you’ve got to be focused on is how often your horse’s teeth have been done. Usually, it’s recommended to get it done between the age of two to the age of five, twice a year. Once they reach the age from five on, it’s recommended to do it once a year.

STEVE: The reason why you need to do it twice a year is because they’re a lot more dynamic. These teeth are shedding. Their permanent teeth are coming in. These baby teeth are dropping out. They also have caps. Go ahead and show what we’re talking about here, Victor, as far as caps are concerned.

VICTOR: Basically, you can see how some of these caps are falling down and you will have the permanent teeth start to rub them. So, all these caps, they start shedding from the age of two until the horse reaches the age of five.

A lot of the time, if these caps don’t get removed, they can get stuck, causing, in the long run, infections because hay and a lot of debris will accumulate between the permanent tooth and the cap.

The diet plays a lot on the horse’s teeth maintenance. If you maintain a very healthy diet for your horse, obviously, you’re going to maintain a very healthy mouth. Which, in the long run, is going to prevent massive consequences in your horse’s dental.

One of the main signs that we’re looking for is how the horse is masticating, or chewing. A lot of the times, when it’s time to recheck your teeth, the first signs that you see is that the horse is dropping feed. We call that quitting. Basically, the horse will eventually drop a lot of the food, like a grain, hay. It’s one of the most common signs about having a teeth problem.

STEVE: The biggest complications that can arise from not having regular, or at least comprehensive, dental care with your horse, is that you’re going to have difficulty with them procuring food. They’ll show you a loss of weight. They’ll show you that they’ve become unthrifty. Their hair becomes rough. Their ribs become obvious to you. They’re just not doing well, overall.

The next thing you see is, obviously, if you’re riding, you see behavioral changes and problems with riding and what you’d normally use your horse for. After that, with time, you’ll see potentially problems with colic. You’ll see problems with potentially ulcers, different things.

It can be a big problem. Then, you can have the worst thing possible, if you get an abscess or if you get a broken tooth, you can get an infection up into the sinus cavity. Then, you have a lot of complications that end up affecting other tissue systems in the horse’s body, respiratory tract, their oral tract or mouth. Then, they can basically become very, very sick.

It can be something very simple that can be just routine maintenance that can get into an expensive problem that can cost you your use of your horse or potentially its life, if you’re not careful enough.

When you look for someone to take care of your horse’s dental care, typically you’ll lose a veterinarian to start with. A lot of veterinarians will go ahead and do the dental care themselves.

However, like, in my practice, I routinely use a technician because they usually have better equipment. They’re usually better suited to it. Victor uses both manual and automatic equipment.

We have a lot of success using mechanical equipment with proper anesthesia, you know, a little bit of sedative. It’ll create less work, a lot less damage on the horse, and a lot more efficient dental care.

So, usually the vet first. Then, usually the other horsemen in your area will utilize a dentist on a regular, routine cycle. Sometimes it is a veterinarian that just does dental care. Sometimes, it’ll be like myself as a regular practitioner that will recommend a technician, as well. We’ll work cooperatively with them.