It is recommended to get routine, dental examinations and maintenance dental work to keep your horse's teeth healthy and working properly. Dental disease can lead to difficulty eating and chewing and processing food efficiently. It can cause pain and discomfort with eating. Some of the causes are sharp hooks and points that cause discomfort with eating leading to abrasions and ulcerations on cheeks and tongue. Also there can be severe dental problems such as missing teeth, fractured teeth, severe dental arcade alignments such as wave mouth or ramps, infections and severe periodontal disease to name a few. Many of these problems can be prevented or greatly reduced by routine dental work to keep your horse's mouth healthy. Also, by keeping your horse's teeth health and correcting and filing sharp teeth and points can help in the performance of your horse. Placing a bit in the horse mouth or when asking for collection there can be pain and discomfort when the teeth have issues with them. Most of the time for regular dental care all is needed is an oral speculum examination and filing off sharp points and hooks with power dental floats or sometime manual floats. More severe dental cases may require specialized equipment, procedures, and diagnostics such as digital radiographs or endoscopy. I perform routine dental care and wolf tooth extractions but all advanced cases are referred to Dr. BA Rucker, who is an equine veterinarian specializing in equine dentistry.
Some of the signs your horse may be having dental problems are: discomfort in eating, dropping feed or hay, holding the head in an unusual position while eating, foul odor from the mouth, poor performance, fighting the bit, head tossing, in undigested feed in manure, and weight loss. If your horse's is showing any of these signs I recommend a dental exam as well as a general physical exam.