The old adage "straight from the horse's mouth" may seem more meaningful when you consider that a licensed veterinarian can learn so much about an animal's health by examining its mouth.
Equine dentistry is more than just floating teeth. Floating ensures that the horse maintains an even, properly aligned bite plane without sharp enamel points that can cause discomfort. While floating is a physical or mechanical process, equine dentistry is much broader and examines the horse's health more systemically.
The general goals of equine dentistry include:
Improving the chewing of food
Relieving pain and treating or curing infection and disease
Promoting general health, comfort, performance, and longevity
Though most people think dentistry is primarily concerned with the teeth and mouth, it also includes the associated structures of the head – for instance the sinuses – and the effect of dental diseases on the health of the rest of the body.
Beyond the comfort and good health of your horse, there are other benefits to proper dental care. Your horse will consume feed more efficiently with less spillage or waste and may perform better and live longer.
Schedule Exams Regularly
Dental disease is a source of pain and infection—it can affect the systemic health of your horse, especially if undetected or left untreated. Routine examination by a licensed veterinarian will help detect dental disease and other health problems early—before they threaten the wellbeing of your horse. These examinations make it much easier to diagnose and treat oral diseases early, preventing more severe and costly problems later.
For healthy adult horses, a yearly dental examination is recommended. Horses older than 20 or with a history of dental problems such as missing teeth or “wave mouth” should be examined twice a year.
Trust Your Veterinarian
Veterinary practitioners are best qualified to perform dental care on your animal because they are:
Licensed to practice dentistry
Trained in equine dentistry, medicine and surgery
Licensed to administer sedation to minimize stress and maximize safety for the horse
Equipped with the proper resources to examine, diagnose and treat dental disease
Licensed to prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatories as needed
Prepared to refer particularly severe cases to specialists with extensive experience
Every dental exam provides the opportunity to perform routine preventative dental care as well. The end result is a healthier, more comfortable horse.
Reprinted courtesy of the American Association of Equine Practitioners – AAEP Touch.