Thursday, 28 July 2016 01:00

EQUINE DENTAL CARE - CHECKING AND FILING DOWN YOUR HORSES TEETH


Care of your horse's teeth is crucial to his health and well-being....
CHECKING AND FILING DOWN YOUR HORSES TEETH IS ESSENTIAL TO YOUR HORSES HEALTH 

David Waters highly recognised equine dentist explains why we need to regularly check and file down our horse's teeth.
 
DID YOU KNOW!!
 
Your horse has five different types of teeth within his mouth making him heterodontus - directly translated this means he has different kinds of teeth to do different jobs. 
david walters_erupting.sharp_teeth 
At the front are the incisors which bite or 'cut' the forage and to the rear are the pre molars and molars that thoroughly chew the food before swallowing. 

Each adult horse has between 36 and 44 teeth inside his head which erupt continuously throughout his life.  

To counteract this, the grinding action while the horse is chewing its food causes the teeth to wear down from above and below - helped by the fact that the teeth in the upper jaw are wider than the lower ones. 

In the wild the horse's teeth mean everything to him; he needs them for grazing, for social interaction or in extreme cases to attack other horses.

He will spend much of his day grazing different varieties of coarse forage which encourages the teeth to wear relatively evenly inside the mouth. Horses living like this will have a lifespan of up to 20 years. 
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Much as domestication has enhanced many aspects of our horse's welfare it has had a much more negative impact on the long term care of their teeth.

To begin with the modern day horse spends much of its time confined to the stable and no longer has the benefits of the continual grazing to wear down its teeth.  

Neither do concentrated feeds have the grittiness that would assist in the essential grinding action. In addition to this our artificially managed pastures are softer and lusher than the horse's natural environment meaning that there is less work overall for the teeth to perform.
                                                
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The consequences of this are that the horse will suffer from uneven wear inside the mouth with sharp edges on both the inside and outsides of the teeth.  

This makes him sore and unhappy - a feeling that is highlighted when he has to wear a bit, and worsened when any type of noseband or martingale is applied and tightened.  

A horse will try and tell you he is in pain by either shaking his head or trying to evade pressure from the bit whilst he is being ridden.
 


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The secondary concern here is that he will be unable to chew his food properly, leaving much of it to become balled up and fall back out of his mouth - a habit that is referred to as 'quidding'.

Apart from the obvious side effect of weight loss, in severe cases, this swallowing of un-masticated food could lead to colic. 
 
To avoid this, your horse will need his teeth filed (or floated) by a professional horse dentist regularly, I suggest at least every six months - or as often as your dentist recommends.

 Before you book check out their qualifications making sure that they have the essential DEFRA and RCVS approved exemption certificates. 

'Always have your horses' teeth checked, regardless of if they show signs of discomfort'
 
David Waters Equine Dentist
DEFRA & RCVS Approved
 
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