Dental problems are all too common in horses. However, by the time you recognize any noticeable signs of dental pain, the horse has probably been miserable for some time. Therefore a proactive approach is recommended. Regular dental examinations are essential for a healthy, pain-free life we would all like our horses to have.
This article lists some of the warning signs and possible causes. If you suspect your horse is experiencing any dental problem please consult with your veterinarian.
Indicators of dental disasters -- What to look for:
- Weight loss
- Eats food at an extremely fast pace or chews very slowly
- Dribbles onto his feet or drops half-chewed feed from his mouth
- Chooses to eat hay before grain
- Tilts or shakes his head while chewing feed
- Develops sores on the tongue, lips or gums
- Manure contains undigested grains or hay
- Resists drinking cold water
- Emits a foul odor from the mouth or nostrils
- Carries his tongue abnormally
Common reasons for dental distress:
- Sharp molar edges may rub your horse's tongue or the insides of his cheeks creating sores.
- Trapped pieces of grain or hay may develop an abscess on the inside of the horse's mouth.
- Tooth misalignments can make the horse work harder to chew his food.
- Cracked molars allow decay destruction to tooth roots and an invasion of bacteria: all of which can be extremely painful.
- Wolf teeth may interfere with a bit in his mouth.
- Deciduous teeth may not allow permanent teeth to break through the gum line.
- Inflammation of the gums may cause problems from periodontal disease.
Once a problem is detected your veterinarian can assist you in restoring your horse to full dental health.