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Routine dental care is essential to your horse’s health. Once to twice yearly examinations and regular care such as floating are necessary for a number of reasons. Horses with dental problems may show obvious signs, such as pain or irritation, or they may show no noticeable signs at all.  It is important to catch dental problems early.  If a horse starts behaving abnormally, dental problems should be considered as a potential cause. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the following indicators of dental problems will help you know when to seek veterinary attention for your horse: 

  • Loss of feed from mouth while eating, difficulty with chewing, or excessive salivation.

  • Loss of body condition.

  • Large or undigested feed particles (long stems or whole grain) in manure.

  • Head tilting or tossing, bit chewing, tongue lolling, fighting the bit or resisting bridling.

  • Poor performance, such as lugging on the bridle, failing to turn or stop, even bucking.

  • Foul odor from mouth or nostrils, or traces of blood from the mouth.

  • Nasal discharge or swelling of the face, jaw or mouth tissues.

Horses may suffer from many dental problems. The most common include:

  • Sharp enamel points forming on cheek teeth, causing lacerations of cheeks and tongue

  • Retained caps (deciduous teeth that are not shed)

  • Hooks forming on the upper and lower cheek teeth

  • Lost and/or broken teeth

  • Abnormal or uneven bite planes

  • Excessively worn teeth

  • Abnormally long teeth

  • Infected teeth and/or gums

  • Misalignment/poor apposition (can be due to congenital defects or injury)

  • Periodontal (gum) disease

  • Diastemas with abnormal food accumulation

  • EOTRH  (Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis)


Proper dental care has its rewards and is a crucial part of keeping your horse healthy and sound. Your horse will be more comfortable, will utilize feed more efficiently, have greater well-being and optimal performance, and may even live longer. 

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