Equine Dentistry


Equine Dentistry

Equine odontoplasty or “floating teeth” has been a service of equine veterinarians for centuries.  In the last decades, great advances have been made in the field from advanced diagnostics and modernized tools to a better understanding of anatomy and tooth development.  What used to be a cookbook rasping of teeth when your horse developed a problem, evolved into a careful and calculated science that is tailored to each individual mouth.  A thorough yearly exam and correction or prevention of problems will improve the health and longevity of your equine companion.

Many times veterinarians are called only after the horse starts spilling feed, losing weight or “blows a turn”, but most ailments can be prevented with routine maintenance.  Since horse teeth are continually erupting or growing throughout their life, when a problem arises, though small and not noticeable from observing the horse, it grows larger or more severe with time.  Correction before obvious trouble can prevent tooth fractures, pulp exposure, periodontal pockets and subsequent loss of teeth.

Other signs of trouble that warrant an oral exam are:

“Chewing on the bit”

Shaking the head excessively when ridden

Blood tinged saliva after riding

Slow to eat or chews with head tilted or cocked to the side


Nasal discharge

Facial swelling

Long stems and poorly chewed feed in feces

As a horse chews, sharp points develop on the outside of the upper teeth and the inside of the lower teeth causing laceration to the cheeks and tongue.  As you can imagine, these sores are painful.  Many owners are surprised to see the damage to the inside of the mouth because the horse gave them no indication.

From 2 ½ to 4 years of age a youngster will lose all of their deciduous or baby teeth.  These teeth are commonly referred to as “caps”.  Caps are usually shed with ease but retained caps often cause infection in the gums that can spread to the permanent tooth root killing it.  A young horse should get its first oral exam between the ages of 2 and 3.

Like yearly physicals and vaccinations, an oral exam is essential to the well-being of your horse.  Horses are given incredible responsibility for us when we climb on top for our activities and hobbies so we in turn have an equal responsibility to take care of them.

Mobile stocks make on-the-farm dentistry safe for the patient and the vet.

Dr. Owens uses a combination of both power and hand floats for detailed work.