Importance of Equine Dentistry

Like us, horses need constant dental work on their teeth. Tofino just got a visit from his dentist this week, Graeme Taylor (050 844 9025), who is a certified Equine Dental Technician. Graeme always does a great job with Tofino, using sanitary equipment, and works at a gentle pace as horses can get pretty nervous when it comes to mouth work. He has been Tofino’s dentist for years now, visiting us around every 8-9 months. Whichever dentist you use, always make sure they are certified and qualified to do their job as not all of them out there are!

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Not all horses need to be sedated, but Tofino did need a little bit. They do get drowsy for a while so it is not recommended to exercise them post dental visits, or to place them in the walker machine. Make sure you also wait a couple of hours for the sedation to wear off before feeding your a horse again.

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When  horses are foals, they shed their baby teeth starting from about 2 years old. Then, their permanent teeth continue to grow through their life until there is no more left. Therefore, continuos dental appointments are required to make sure your horses teeth are aligned properly with no sharp edges or gum issues.

Horses teeth by age:


Since almost all domestic horses rely on chewing hay and grain, the movement of the jaw differs from eating grass. Therefore, sharp edges are common in domestic horses, needing at least a dental visit once or twice a year depending on your horses age.

Sign That Your Horse Needs Dental Attention:

  • Change their eating habits.
  • The horse may dribble feed (quidding), wash feed in the water bucket, hold the head to the side or not eat at all.
  • Bad breath
  • Lack of condition & loss of coat shine
  • Poor performance
  • Change in performance
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive salivation or drooling
  • Chewing of doors or fencing
  • Rearing
  • Head throwing while being ridden
  • Stiffness on rein
  • Head tilting while eating or riding
  • Choking
  • Failure to perform with most types of equipment
  • Abnormal carriage of the tongue
  • Bad general attitude
  • Discharge from the eyes or nostrils
  • Fistulous discharge from the jaw or face
  • Swelling of the face or jaw
  • Lack of desire to eat hard food
  • Reluctance to drink cold water

Potential Dental Problems: 

Sharp Teeth: Since domestic horses do not graze as often as wild horses, the chewing movement differs, thus, causing the teeth to wear with sharper edges.mouth-with-dental-problems

Improper Teeth Alignment: Overbite, where the top row of incisors are further forward than the bottom row.  Underbite, where the bottom row of incisors are further forward than the top row. This causes problems with grazing since the horse cannot ‘clip’ the grass properly. Offset is when your horses teeth meet diagonally. 


Wolf Teeth: Can be painful and may cause a horse to head toss or be reluctant to respond to the bit. The earlier the extraction of wolf teeth the better.wolf2

Decayed teeth: Can lead to the deterioration of the tooth, and possibly leading to infection of the surrounding bone and gum.

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