Below are some signs that your horse may have a dental problem:
- Dropping feed (quidding)
- Turning head while chewing
- Large, undigested feed particles in manure
- Decreased body weight
- Behavioral issues such as chewing on the bit, bucking, or rearing
- Malodorous smell coming from the mouth
- Nasal discharge or swelling of the face
A thorough dental exam begins with a general health exam. The veterinarian will look at the overall body condition of the horse and listen for any heart abnormalities. Next, the horse will be sedated. Once the horse is sedated, a dental speculum will be placed within the horse’s mouth to visualize the dental arcade. Once a dental exam is performed, power tools will be used to reduce any sharp points and abnormalities within the mouth. If wolf teeth are present, the veterinarian will extract them at this point. Once the floatation and extractions are complete, further follow-up will be discussed if necessary such as follow-up exams or nutritional recommendations. We do not commonly reverse the sedatives given so we suggest hand walking the horse to help wake him or her up. Lastly, feed should be withheld for the 2 hours after sedation to limit the risk of choke.
Having regular dental exams and dental work performed by your veterinarian will limit the number of problems your horse will experience as he or she ages. Additionally, when your horse can chew comfortably and appropriately, feed utilization will improve and life expectancy increases.