From the horse’s mouth: What kind of dental care do horses need?

Like humans, horses need regular dental check-ups to make sure their teeth stay picture perfect. Given they have a lot more teeth than us (sometimes up to 44!) they need appointments every six months.

You may know that a horse’s teeth continue to grow for most of its life. Have you ever heard the expression “long in the tooth”? This well-known saying derives from the fact that horses have a large storage of tooth hidden in the gums. The external part that we can see is only the very top, almost like an iceberg! As horses chew, their teeth wear down over time.

So, what can you expect from a visit from the equine dentist?

Many equine dentists will give the horse a general check-up first where they will assess the lungs, eyes, stomach and coat.

Then, they will use special devices to keep the horse’s head and mouth still while they do the dental examination. If your equine dentist is also a vet, or if there is a vet on hand, it is normal for them to lightly sedate a horse before doing this. As you might imagine, animals don’t really like going to the dentist either!

If you’ve been to the dentist recently, you may have noticed them using a mirror to check your teeth. The equine dentist will do the same, checking each tooth for disease or decay with a very long mirror. Sometimes they will even use a camera to record inside the mouth. That way, they can get an in-depth look and even record the footage to check later.

Horses can often get jagged edges on their teeth. If this is the case, the Equine Dentist will use a drill to carefully smooth out the tooth.

Humans and horses have a lot in common when it comes to dental health. Like us, they can get toothaches, abscesses, decay and even cavities. As horses age, dental care becomes even more vital. When a horse gets old, their teeth can sometimes loosen or fall out, or may need to be carefully removed.

That’s why it’s so important to schedule bi-annual check-ups with an accredited equine dentist if you own a horse.  

For more information about horse dental care, watch this video below.