Does Your Horse Need a Dentist?

Aiden Cotter Equine Dentist, Ireland

Whether young or old, ridden or non-ridden. All equines should see the dentist at least once per year. This is especially important in young, horses and competition horses who may need to be seen more regularly.

Take Dolly for instance as a young miniature Shetland riding 4 she is none-ridden, a companion and pet at home. However, it was still important for her to see the dentist as she required an extraction of a baby tooth which was loose but struggling to come out.

A baby tooth extraction to allow the adult tooth to push through.

Sudden Behaviour Changes

If you notice a sudden change in your horses behaviour, it’s important to have their teeth checked, even if it is in the period between regular visits. This is because ulcers, infection, tooth breakage can all happen at any time.

Behaviours to look out for:

  • Head shaking
  • Pushing against the bit/bitless bridle
  • Refusing to open mouth for the bit
  • Moving away from bridling up
  • Eating less hay/feed
  • Quidding (chewing hay and dropping)
  • Dropping weight
  • High touch sensitivity to the jaw and face

These are to name but a few. If in doubt seek the advice of a qualified equine dentist.

How to Choose an Equine Dentist

I highly recommend this checklist when looking for a new dentist. The laws for practicing dentistry means that not all equine dentists will necessarily have the same or any qualifications.

  • Check qualifications and experience
  • Are they are registered to the I.A.E.D. (International Association of Equine Dentistry)?
  • What tools do they use?
  • Do they work with a vet for sedation?
  • Ask for testimonials

The cost factor can sway people’s decisions when choosing a dentist. We would strongly recommend spending a few extra coins on a good dentist. This is because it can cost more to fix bad work and also it can cost time – horses can be out of work for months from poor workmanship.

It’s also important to follow up on those testimonials. Recommendations – especially from happy horses, make a world of difference to your confidence in choice.

Sedation for Dental Work

Unless your horse is comfortable with wearing the gag and receiving treatment using noisy power tools vibrating in their mouth, then I highly recommend sedation.

Not only will sedation make the experience much more pleasant for the horse as they stay medically relaxed, it also allows the dentist more freedom to complete the task with more precision without fear of the horse moving or kicking.

Clicker training can support your horse to receive sedation, we will be releasing a video series soon via Patron which you can receive from only $5 per month.

Estimating Age with Teeth

This is an excellent info-graphic if you are interested in trying to estimate your horse’s age using their teeth. Share your photos with us for an estimated age.

Credit: Marcel Jacobs

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