Why is dental care so important?

Dental care for your horse is so important. Horses are prey animals this means they will do everything in there power not to show any signs of weakness, in the wild the weakest is the easiest target for the predator. 

Dentistry isn't just checking for problems it's also about prevention, preventing problems has its rewards shorter time being treated so a more positive experience, your horse will be more comfortable in its mouth therefore able to utilize feed more efficiently, overall could lead to better performance, and may even live longer.

What should I expect from a dental appointment?

If your not a fan of the dentist yourself, and you have never had one for your horse sometimes it may seem daunting. Firstly all horses / donkeys are treated the same regardless of there job or worth. We start with asking a few questions, medical history (to your knowledge), eating / riding habits. It is important to know that all horses and donkeys must be up to date with their Tetanus for treatment work to go ahead.

Starting with a close inspection of the head, the incisors are examined, then a gag is placed (see gallery for images), and the mouth opened, this is completely safe and always fitted with care. A thorough examination is carried out looking with a bright head light. Dental picks, probes and mirror may be used for closer investigation. If dental treatment is required it will be made using a mixture of battery motor (electric point not needed) and hand tools. Special training is always required for motorised instruments they are very safe and efficient. 

The gag is removed, incisors are checked again, ensuring good cheek tooth occlusion (contact between the teeth).

All findings are recorded on your horse / donkeys chart and discussed with the owner at the end of the examination and any recommendations for follow-up are discussed with the owner or carer, these will then be emailed so owners have a copy.
 

Please note*

Payment is always required at the time of appointment unless previously discussed. 

How often should I get the dentist?

 

Horses and donkeys should see the dentist at least every 12 months as a routine, we recommend under the age of 6 and over 20 should be seen every 6 months, this will help monitor changes at these vital times. Horses or donkeys with dental problems may need to be seen more frequently. Every horse / donkey is an individual and treatment is always specific to their needs. 

What are the signs of dental problems? 

  • Resistance and evasion to the bit or bridle  

  • Changes in behaviour, becomes aggressive or depressive

  • Change in ridden behaviour example head tilting, head tossing, mouth openrearing, bolting or bucking

  • Facial swellings

  • Inflammation of the gums

  • Facial swelling

  • Headshaking

  • Only chews feed on one side

  • Bad breath (halitosis)

  • Long fibre or undigested food in droppings

  • Pouching - of feed in the cheeks

  • Quidding - dropping partially chewed hay

  • Dropping hard feed

  • Refusing to eat

  • Discharge and / or smell from one or both nostrils

  • Excessive salivation

  • Choke

  • Weight loss

  • Colic

  • No obvious signs - some can be eating well, good weight as have learnt to live with issues