Common Equine Dental Questions
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Common Equine Dental Questions



A Power Point presentation with some of the most common equine dental questions often asked by horse owners.

A Power Point presentation with some of the most common equine dental questions often asked by horse owners.



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Common Equine Dental Questions Common Equine Dental Questions Presentation Transcript

  • AMANDA COMPTON, EqDT VA RegisteredInternational Assoc. of Equine Dentists Member
  • Why Do I Need To Float My Horse’s Teeth? Better mastication (grinding) of grass/hay/grain Perform better in a bridle or hackamore Prevention of future dental problems
  • How Often Does My Horse’s Teeth Need Floating? Every horse at least once a year Younger horses (≤5 years old) twice a year Older horses (≥20 years old) twice a year Performance horses twice a year Horses prone to or with existing malocclusions (dental abnormalities) twice a year or more
  • How Much Will It Cost? Routine work is usually less than $100 per visit Simple Extractions are typically $25-75 per tooth Power work starts at $100 The more severe the problems, the more difficult to correct and higher the cost The longer a problem has been developing, the longer it will take to correct, hence the more expensive Prevention is the key!!!
  • Who Can Perform Equine Dentistry in Virginia? Veterinarians Veterinary Technicians Equine Dental Technicians registered with the Board of Veterinary Medicine  There are currently only 26 registered EqDT’s in VA. In comparison there are 215,000 equines in the state. Only licensed veterinarians are allowed to sedate or prescribed medications to your horse.
  • Will My Horse Need Sedation? Not always. It depends on the horse and situation. A well mannered, relaxed horse can often have routine work performed without sedation. Sedation is required for any extractions, severe malocclusions, or power work. For the horse’s & the technician’s safety, sedation is necessary for any horse that is unruly, scared, nervous, rears, or pushes. If your EqDT recommends sedation, it is for your horse’s best interest! Resistance or “fighting” the horse during floating will result in a poor or unfinished job. Depending on the procedure, horses usually only need (standing) sedation to last 30-45 minutes, with no long term adverse affects.
  • Should I Have My Vet or EqDT Float My Horses Teeth? The decision is yours (depending on state laws). Regardless of who you choose, you should make sure that he/she is experienced in equine dentistry. EqDT’s should have working relationships with local veterinarians. EqDT’s are NOT legal to sedate or prescribe medications. EqDT’s are not veterinarians, therefore some procedures may need to be referred to a vet. Some veterinarians have chosen to specialize in equine dentistry & are very skilled and informed about proper preventative & corrective care (although few & far between). It’s been estimated that 80% of vet schools only teach less than 3 hours of equine dentistry in their curriculum!
  • Is a Power Float Better? Power floating is the term used when the dentist uses motorized equipment to perform the procedure. Hand-floating is the term used when non-motorized equipment is used. In skilled hands, either types of equipment can be used to properly do the task. One is neither better than the other. In some cases, horses with severe problems will require the use of power tools in order to correct the malocclusion.
  • When Should IStart Floating My Horse’s Teeth? Horses should be examined at birth or by the time they are weanlings. Start routine dental work as yearlings, and every 6 months until all permanent teeth have erupted at 5 years of age.
  • Why Start So Young? There’s a lot going on! Between the ages of 1 ½ years and 4 ½ years, your horse may erupt up to 44 permanent teeth and will shed 24 deciduous caps. Young, erupting teeth are much softer than older teeth, and will sharp enamel points after just a few months. Permanent teeth do not erupt one right after the other; the rows are often uneven during this time. Wolf teeth are easier to extract when the horse is younger. Your horse can concentrate on his training without pain from sharp points, saving you time & money!
  • What Are The Difference Between Wolf Teeth & Canines? Canines are predominately found in males, although a smaller percentage of females do develop them. Canines are longer rooted, sharp teeth that would be used for fighting. The bit is placed behind them. Either males or females can develop wolf teeth. They can range in number from 0-4 teeth. Wolf teeth are smaller, short rooted teeth. They are not used for chewing or fighting. The use of a bit often interferes with the wolf teeth, causing pain or discomfort.
  • Wolf Tooth vs. Canine
  • What Are “Caps?” Caps are deciduous teeth (or baby teeth). Horses begin shedding caps at 2 ½ years of age, and continue until 4 ½ years. Horses have 12 incisor and 12 premolar caps. The back cheek teeth, or molars, do not develop caps. Caps can cause irritation or discomfort when loose and may need to be removed. Retained caps can cause a malocclusion, pushing the permanent teeth out of place.
  • What Are Signs of a Dental Problem? Weight Loss  Choke Failure to Gain Weight  Colic Dropping Feed  Facial Swelling Quidding  Nasal Discharge Eating Slowly  Foul Oral Odors Refusal to Eat Hay  Head Tossing “Squeaky” Noises while eating Head tilting Head Shyness  Bitting issues
  • Failure to gain weight/weight loss Quidding Evading the bitHead tilt when chewing Abnormal chewing/ Bucking drooling
  • What is the Most Common Sign of Dental Problem? Nothing! Many horses won’t show any indications that something is wrong until the problem is severe.
  • Do I Need To Have My Horse’s Teeth Floated If I Don’t Use a Bridle? YES! Even if you never put a bit in your horses mouth, it’s teeth are erupting & wearing away, forming sharp points that can be painful. Not all teeth will wear evenly, which can lead to malocclusions. Cheek ulcers are often caused from sharp points and are easily prevented through routine dental care.
  • What is a “Bit Seat?” A bit seat refers to buffing the sharp edges off the first 4 premolars, behind where the bit rests on the bars of the horse’s mouth. The purpose is to prevent soft tissue (gums & cheeks) from being pinched between the mouthpiece and premolars. Most horses benefit from bit seats, especially ones with fleshy bars
  • How Long Have People Been Floating Their Horse’s Teeth? Dutch painting, 1648 by Paulus Potter A lot longer than you think! There is evidence hundreds of years old. The US Calvary routinely floated their horses teeth, even during the Civil War.
  • Do Certain Breeds Have More Dental Problems?  Yes, some breeds are more prone to certain issues or abnormalities.  Minis often have under or over bites  Arabs are prone to hooks on molars  QH’s have more muscular cheeks, which can lead to soft tissue abrasions against sharp teeth
  • What About Wild Horses? Horses in the wild do develop dental abnormalities, but to a lesser extent. Their diets consist of coarser grasses, shrubs, leaves, etc. They spend more time grazing than their domestic cousins in stables and paddocks. If a major dental problem does arise, nature usually “takes it’s course.” Horses in the wild do not live as long as our own equine companions. Wild horses never have to carry a bit in their mouths.
  • Is Floating My Horse’s Teeth Painful? If the equine dental practitioner is skilled in placement of his tools, then floating is generally painless. Horses have hypsodont teeth: longer reserve crows and shorter roots than human teeth. An uncooperative horse can damage soft tissue (gums, tongue, cheeks) on sharp instruments & should be sedated by your veterinarian.
  • How Do You Look In AHorse’s Mouth? The only way to perform a full exam is with a speculum, good light, and feeling the dental arcades (rows of teeth), tongue, and soft tissue. Just pulling the tongue out to the side DOES NOT constitute a thorough dental exam & will surely miss many problems!
  • If you have any other questions or would like to make an appointment, please contact: Amanda Compton, EqDT 1196 Hites Road Middletown, VA 22645 Cell: 304-582-5885 Email: & now on Facebook!