When is it time to have Dental care?
The first dental exam should be when a foal is born, during the neonatal exam. Your foal needs to be examined for congenital abnormalities (birth defects).
From ages 2 years to 5 years a horse needs an exam at least twice a year. During this period your horse loses 24 deciduous (baby) teeth and erupts 36 permanent teeth. This is also a time when we are asking a lot from our horses, such as breaking, training and starting their competitive careers. Premature or delayed tooth eruption can cause uneven chewing surfaces that worsen over time. Most major dental problems are preventable with proper dental maintenance during this time period.
From ages 6 through 15 years most horses can go to once a year exams. This is the period when the teeth are at their strongest. If you have a performance horse, however, then we recommend staying on the twice per year schedule to maintain peek performance.
After age 15, horses need to go back to twice per year exams so we can evaluate any geriatric problems.
What are the signs that your horse may need a dental exam?
- Loss of feed from the mouth while eating, difficulty with chewing or excessive salivation.
- Loss of body condition.
- Large or undigested feed particles (long stems or whole grain) in the manure.
- Head tilting or tossing , bit chewing, tongue lolling, fighting the bit or resisting bridling.
- Poor performance, such as lunging on the bridle, failing to turn, stop or even bucking.
Foul odor coming from the mouth or nostrils, traces of blood from the mouth.
Nasal discharge or swelling of the face, jaw or mouth tissues.
choking on food