Horses have a unique dental structure, in that their teeth continue to grow well into old age. Each tooth relies on being worn down by the opposing tooth. The circular motion in which the horse chews maintains the level of the occlusive (chewing) surface of the teeth.
The upper cheek teeth are set wider than the lower cheek teeth in order to efficiently grind their food. This is important in the wild to get the most out of poorer quality feed. As the particle size of the feed decreases, as with modern diets, the diameter of the circle in which the horse chews decreases as the grinding requirement is less. This causes sharp ridges to form on the outer edges of the upper teeth and inner edges of the lower teeth where there is less friction and wear.
Modern diets, which are typically higher energy/sugar diets, cause the tooth surfaces to become exposed to a different range of breakdown products leading the teeth and gums, to wear/erode more rapidly, and unevenly. Due to the change in diet from the wild, of rough, abrasive feed, to higher quality domestic pasture and ‘hard’ feed, dental problems are becoming widespread.
Regular dental maintenance and care is becoming a necessary part of a horse’s welfare.
Developmental problems in horses teeth are quite common. As we have selected horses for purposes, such as speed and athletic performance, their mouths have been largely forgotten leading to a whole range of developmental/congenital problems - many of which can be significantly helped if identified early and treated regularly. Small breeds and ponies are particularly at risk as the way they have been selected means they are trying to fit a large horse’s teeth into a small horse’s mouth.
VETERINARY DENTAL CARE
At RVC we want the best for your horse or pony. This includes offering the most up to date services and treatment options available. Our equine vets are specifically trained in all areas of horse veterinary medicine including Dental treatments.
Hooks, ridges and uneven wear patterns on your horses teeth can cause extreme discomfort and ulceration of the mouth and tongue, which means the mouth becomes inefficient at preparing food for digestion. Problems that can occur as a result of poor dentition include: Poor performance, weight loss, pain, gum disease and colic.
A regular scheduled check up of your horse's mouth should begin at six months and continue into old age. This ensures problem areas are identified and treated appropriately, in a timely manner, before they become harmful.
At the RVC we are fully qualified and have the right equipment and facilities to be able to offer the safest and most effective treatment tailored to your individual horse’s requirements. Our vets can offer intra-venous sedation, a very safe and effective way of making the whole expereince painless and stressless for your horse or pony. Please contact us for further information, or to book an appointment with one of our equine vets for a dental assessment.