Hints & Tips: Top tips for a winning smile

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Your horse’s teeth should be checked every 6 months – 1 year by a qualified equine dental technician, as their teeth continue to erupt as they age and wear overtime as they eat. If you’re bringing your horse back into work after a winter off, or are planning to compete your horse this season, now is a good time to arrange a visit with your local equine dentist.

Dental problems can cause pain and discomfort, however, they may be suffering in silence and often don’t show any obvious signs or eating difficulties until the pain is severe. Your horse may show the following signs:

  • Quidding (dropping feed/hay when they eat)
  • Weight loss
  • Biting problems and riding difficulties
  • Head shaking
  • ‘Hamster cheeks’ (in ponies)

Horses that are unable to chew their food properly are also at risk of developing impaction colic or choke. Keep an eye on their droppings, poorly digested cereals and longer forage particles may be present if your horse is struggling to chew their food.

The horse’s upper and lower molar teeth act as a single grinding surface and grind against the opposite tooth as the horse chews. The horse’s upper jaw (the maxilla) is slightly wider than the lower jaw (mandible) and as a result sharp edges can develop along the inside of the lower molars and the outer edges of the upper molars. These sharp points can cause discomfort when the horse is eating or being ridden.

Other dental problems include ulcers, tooth root infections, fractured teeth, diastema (gaps between the teeth), hooks and ramps, wave mouth, excessive transverse ridges on molars, caries, retained temporary teeth, and wolf teeth problems – to name but a few.

You can go to the British Association of Equine Dental Technicians website to search for an equine dentist in your area (www.baedt.com).

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