Horses have a different life and eating habits than decades ago. Some are still in pasture, but others, the majority in our area, get hay, grains or pellets.
Horses can get sharp enamel points on their teeth that can hurt soft tissue on the mouth like tongue or cheeks. Dental issues happen before the appearance of clinical signs, which can be: feed dropping, difficulty chewing, diminished appetite and weight loss. So, it is important to examine your horse’s mouth to detect any abnormality.
Ideally, the horse should have his mouth checked at 2 years of age and every 6 months after that. When he(she) is an adult around 5 years, once a year is recommended.
Horses get sedated, for their comfort and safety, a full mouth speculum is used and an examination takes place.
They can have wolf teeth, waves, steps, sharp points, ulcers, loose or missing teeth, and other problems.
Adjusting common dental problems such as points is called floating. The majority of horses do well with floating teeth once a year.
The animal is sedated and we use floats (dental tools) to address the issues. The wear and tear varies with age, breed, diet, tooth conformation and other factors.
Some studies indicate that “even the correction of moderate dental findings may increase apparent digestibility significantly”.