Equine dental work is a very important factor in keeping your horse happy and healthy. Just like us, horses teeth need some polishing up too! Horses in the wild naturally shave down their teeth by grazing on different plants throughout their lives. Domestic horses on the other hand, generally eat the same thing every day and they do not have access to graze on various plants. This causes their teeth to wear down in an uneven matter.
If a horse has dental problems, whether they are just needing routine work or they have something serious going on, it can take a huge affect on the animal. Having a tooth problem can cause colic, infections, and even behavior changes. It is recommended that you have your horse's teeth floated/filed at least once a year. Some horses, especially younger ones, need it more often than that. Younger horses tend to get sharp points quicker than older horses just because they are still growing and forming. Sharp points can develop on the back molars causing sores in the mouth and excruciating pain. Your vet can perform dental work for you at their clinic or sometimes at your property, depending on the clinic.
Most horses just need routine work done, but sometimes there can be more serious cases. They can sometimes need teeth pulled or certain teeth may need special attention due to uneven wear or other issues. Their teeth can sometimes get damaged or even break off in the event of an accident. Most commonly, teeth get broken off from one horse kicking another in the mouth. Vets have done groundbreaking research and have developed amazing technology to assist them in serious cases like these.
When horses are experiencing dental problems, the symptoms/signs can be very subtle or very extreme. Some of the most common things to watch for are:
~Difficulty eating or not eating at all
~Not wanting to drink
~Spitting grain out
~Reluctant to take the bit
~Shaking their head when riding
Being a tack store, we have a lot of customers coming to us about their horse's behavioral issues. The first thing we tend to go to is there's something wrong with the bit, or the saddle, or the horse is just being naughty. But in fact, a lot of times it is the horse's teeth needing to be done. It can change a horse's personality so drastically. It can also put the rider and horse in a dangerous situation because the horse is in pain.
Keeping up on your horse's teeth is so important. Be sure to have your vet get your horse on a routine dental check up. Now obviously they don't make braces for horses, but their smiles need some attention too.