Oral and dental health have a significant impact on a horse’s well-being, performance and lifespan. The teeth are a vitally important part of the digestive tract and in some horses severe problems such as weight loss, choke and colic can be associated with dental disease. Other signs of dental problems may include nasal discharge, facial swelling or bad breath as well as a decrease in performance with issues such as bit resistance and head shaking. Less severe problems, without obvious outward signs, may go unnoticed while still causing pain and discomfort to your horse.
Floating or rasping a horse’s teeth is now considered to be only a part of routine dental care . A proper dental examination usually requires sedation as well as a powerful light and long handled dental mirrors to assess the entire oral cavity and check all those hard to reach nooks and crannies, much as your own dentist would do! Obviously this includes all the different surfaces of the teeth as well as the spaces between them and the soft tissues of the mouth. A proper examination enables early detection of problems, such as periodontal disease , before they develop into more major issues.
We recommend that young horses under six years old should be seen twice a year due to the changes that occur in the mouth while the permanent (adult) teeth are erupting. Horses over six with no previous issues should be assessed once a year and older horses (over twenty) twice a year. This is important even for horses not in work, as the early signs of dental disease such as bit resistance are less likely to be detected in unridden horses. A dental examination is recommended for broodmares annually prior to breeding to detect problems that could contribute to reproductive losses in the future and allow appropriate treatment while the mare is not in foal.
Dr Ilona Bayliss and Dr Tori Locke have both undertaken additional training in the field of equine veterinary dentistry. Our range of equipment, including a headstand, bright dental light and a powerfloat, makes each dental examination safe, thorough and comfortable for all involved. Our portable x-ray machines allow investigation of many problems out in the field with the hospital in Randwick available for referral of more complicated cases. Call us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss any issues regarding your horse’s dental health.