Routine dental floats and oral exams are an important part in maintaining your horse’s overall health. As humans have modified the horse’s natural eating patterns to conform to meal feedings, the continuous growth of the teeth is not countered by extended periods of grinding found in a natural environment. This unchecked growth has a tendency to form sharp enamel points and misalignments in the mouth that lead to a whole host of issues. In addition, poor oral care can lead to infection and dental disease.
Common signs of dental issues include:
- Yellow or brown buildup (tartar) on the teeth
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Excessive drooling or nasal discharge
- Swelling of the face, jaw, lips, or mouth
- Changes in eating or chewing habits such as head tilting
- Dropping feed
- Headshyness, Head-tossing, bit chewing
- Resistance to the bit or reluctance to work
Dental disease can also affect other organs in the body: Bacteria in the mouth can get into the bloodstream and cause serious infections in the kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart. If these problems aren’t caught and treated quickly, they can become fatal. Annual dentistry helps to prevent oral problems through preventative maintenance by “filing” down problematic dental points or hooks, correcting misalignments, and removing any bothersome teeth.