Have you ever bitten the side of your cheek or had a cavity? If you have, then you know how uncomfortable that can be.
Horses have hypsodont teeth, meaning that the tooth surface under the gum is the same as the tooth surface above the gum. This is important because horse’s teeth erupt their entire lives, and if a horse looses a tooth or has an issue with a tooth, it can lead to major problems.
Some signs of dental trauma or pain might include dropping feed, poor performance, mild colic, balling of hay in the horse’s mouth, eating slowly, excessive saliva, hard to bit, head shyness, and (in extreme cases) weight loss.
Like their human counterparts, horses can suffer from various dental conditions, including overbites, underbites, missing teeth, and gingivitis. Many dental issues can be prevented with regular, yearly dental exams.
Painful dental problems that can cause ulcers and lacerations in the mouth are sharp points, hooks, and ramps. These problems can occur in all horses due to continued tooth eruption and the circular motion in which horses chew. Other issues are retained caps in young horses and wolf teeth. These dental issues can be prevented and corrected with the regular dental exams and floats by a veterinarian specially trained in dental care.
column by DR. KATIE HENNESSY
BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. After completing an advanced internship and working as an associate veterinarian, she is currently practicing at Polk Equine, LLC. Her expertise ranges from small and exotic creatures to large animals, specializing in equine medicine.