Dental care is essential to maintain your horse's health. Some horses with dental problems may show obvious signs such as weight loss, dribbling food or head tossing with the bit. Many show no signs at all.
All horses should have yearly dental exams by their veterinarian. Some horses will need their teeth floated every year and some less often. Floating removes sharp enamel points and creates a more even bite plane. Sedatives and painkillers help relax your horse and keep them more comfortable during floating and dental procedures.
Young horses often have teething discomfort. Between the ages of two to five a horse will lose twenty-four baby (deciduous) teeth and have the potential of twelve to sixteen adult teeth to be coming in at the same time. They often have sharp points on their molars or they might not lose their baby teeth (caps) when the adult teeth start to come in.
Middle aged horses may also develop sharp enamel points that make full range of motion when chewing difficult or cause them discomfort when being trained or ridden. If your horse starts behaving abnormally (at any age) dental problems should be considered.
Senior horses (more than twenty years old) not only can have sharp points, but may also start to lose teeth. This can cause digestive problems leading to colic, choke or weight loss.
Root canals, pulp capping (fillings) and bite plane corrections are a few, not so uncommon, but extremely important procedures that may be needed for your horse. A thorough dental exam is very important in recognizing the need for these treatments early.