Equine Dentistry

Preventative – Restorative - Corrective

The Importance of Equine Dentistry

teeth floatingDentistry is probably the most important, yet often overlooked health practice we can provide for our horses. Properly done, it can lead to balanced body functions, that in turn improve performance, improve health and even prolong life. Poor equine dentistry on the other hand increases pain, contributes to lameness, and leads to neurological imbalance with a host of negative ramifications. Minor imbalances in the mouth transmit through the spinal and skeletal system , creating imbalance somewhere else as the body tries to compensate, and create a pseudo balance. These erroneous “corrections” result in muscles being strained, joints over stressed, are major factors in dysfunction and pain.

“I have never seen dentistry done with so little sedation”
--Dr. Jay Phelps, Sonoita, AZ



The purpose of equine dentistry is to remove painful issues which cause inefficiencies that limit the horse’s bio-mechanical function. When restoring that bio-mechanical function, effects are manifest through the entire body.

Many health and performance problems are a direct result of improperly maintained teeth. The application of proper techniques to float and balance your horse's mouth is critical to the performance, health and quality of life of your horse. This is accomplished through a thorough knowledge of dental anatomy, understanding of bio-mechanics and the most sophisticated instrumentation available.


Routine Care

Every horse deserves a complete dental exam on a regular basis – at least once a year. There are however, different requirements due to a horse’s job. Competitive horses need more frequent examination, as the stress of competition, travel and environmental variances are all factors in tooth eruption and wear. Back yard horses that graze on pasture may not need examination as frequently.

Beyond tooth eruption and wear issues, horses can develop a variety dental problems, some which may be very serious and require surgery. It is therefore important that horse owners, the dentist and the veterinarian work with each other for the benefit of the horse’s health.



The Best For Your Horse

Dentistry is much more than filing down sharp points on the teeth. A good equine dental practitioner must be able to recognize not only the big things, but also the minute details that may indicate some other problem. Understanding that the horse is not independent from his mouth, Phil puts together the entire cause and effect picture.

I want to thank you for making such a difference in our Morgan mare, Maggie.

Maggie had been "off" for over a year and her normal Morgan sparkle and playfulness was gone. She had a complete vet check with all health signs good. Our barefoot trimmer said the problem was not in her feet. We had equine bodywork done. And yes, we looked at the possibility of saddle fit problems even though I was riding her mostly bareback.

Well, I don't have the words adequate to describe the improvement we saw within three days of your visit. She was instantly more flexible and picking up correct leads. More important was to see her energy and joy return - running, spinning, flying when turned out.

Please use Maggie as an example of your professional "magic" and the importance of knowledgeable equine dental work.

Judy Parker - Tucson


Special Needs of The Geriatric Horse

When the animal reaches old age, the crowns of the teeth are very short and the teeth are often lost altogether. Very old horses, if lacking molars, may need to have their fodder ground up and soaked in water to create a soft mush for them to eat in order to obtain adequate nutrition. Commercially prepared hay pellets and Hay cubes can be moistened for this purpose. Beet pulp may also be a suitable feed.


Causes of Dental Problems

Many factors influence dental pathology such as age, feed, stress, hauling, the natural cycle of tooth growth and wear, congenital problems, breed and trauma to name a few. Unfortunately another major factor is improper maintenance and aggressive structural changes made by power floating.

Symptoms of Dental Problems

• Abnormal change in behavior (dropping food, head tilting, excessive salivation)
• Refusing certain types of food
• Refusing food completely
• Eating slowly
• A bad odor from the mouth
• Quidding (rolling hay into balls then dropping them)
• Head shaking
• Loss of weight / condition
• Packing food into the cheeks
• Food / hay being passed through in droppings
• Swellings under the jaw, side of face or above eyes
• Tilting the head while being ridden
• Unable to ride in an outline / on the bit / slow to make transitions
• Chewing on the bit
• Bad behavior

Remember that some horses with significant dental problems may show no signs and a horse that has not had a dental exam in two or more years should be evaluated.



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