Routine dentistry is important for the health and wellbeing of your horse and can also have an effect on ridden performance. Common signs of dental disease are a reluctance to accept the bit when ridden and discomfort when eating which results in the horse dropping partly chewed balls of feed - this is known as quidding.
It is advised that all horses regularly have their teeth examined every 6 to 12 months depending on their age and if any pre-existing dental problems are present to ensure the horse's mouth remains comfortable, but if there are any signs of dental problems a dental examination should be done sooner.
Our veterinary surgeons are fully qualified to carry out routine dental work and can assess the need for and perform further investigation such as xrays or procedures such as extractions.
Routine dental examinations can be carried out either at your yard or at the Newbiggin practice. During the examination, a dental history will be taken, which may include questions about behaviour and management and an external assessment of the facial symmetry before a full oral examination to identify any abnormalities. Our vets are equipped with both motorised and hand rasps to perform routine rasping and are licensed to sedate horses for examination when required.
If you choose to use an equine dentist to carry out your routine dentistry it is recommended that you choose an equine dentist who is a member of the British Association of Equine Dental Technicians (BAEDT)
Commonly it is presumed that if a horse requires sedating for routine dental care it is because the horse is naughty. We would like to dispel these thoughts. Equine dentistry is more than just “rasping off points”. Sedation allows for a thorough examination of the mouth and treatment to be performed in a safe environment for owner, vet and horse! At the back of the mouth is where we commonly find sharp points and ulcers. To reduce these points adequately requires time. Most horses resent a rasp or the motorised equipment at the back of the mouth which is understandable. Sedation also allows for each tooth in the mouth to be visual examined using a dental mirror, this allows for early signs of dental disease to be identified and treated to prevent further degeneration and potential suffering. Having your horse sedated makes this easier, resulting in a nicer experience for your horse and reduces the risk of trauma to the soft tissues of the mouth. Sedation also makes the process much quicker, which results in your horses spending less time with their mouth held open by the gag.
When a tooth has fractured, or its roots have become damaged it may be necessary to remove the tooth. In some cases, a lump will become visible externally on the face or a discharging tract may burst that suggests a tooth root infection whilst other horses will present with discomfort when eating. Examination of the mouth with a dental mirror alongside dental radiographs will in most cases identify which tooth is causing the problem, in a small number of challenging cases referral for computer tomography imaging may be necessary to make a diagnosis. Cheek tooth extractions can be performed at our Newbiggin practice under standing sedation along with appropriate local anaesthetic. It is very rare that a horse required a general anaesthetic for the extraction of a tooth.
Horses sinuses are air filled cavities that cover the front of a horse’s head. Sinus disease is not uncommon in horses and will normally present with discharge from one nostril. Sinus disease is commonly caused by a bacterial infection, but it can also be caused by disease within an upper tooth that’s roots lie within the sinus. Radiography can be used to aid diagnosis of sinus disease allowing detection of fluid lines or changes in opacity in the sinuses. Treatment of sinus disease often involves flushing the sinus to remove infected material and addressing dental disease. Sinus surgery is normally performed under standing sedation at our Newbiggin practice.