Equine Dental Care – The what, why, how of it all.

This week’s topic has been on teeth. That’s right, chompers, nashers, teefy-pegs, teeth! Specifically, equine dental care and the ins and outs of it all.

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Cheese! Healthy teeth = big smiles!

This week I got to catch up with local equine dental technician, Sara. She takes care of our four-legged friends’ teeth all over Central Florida! I think what drew me to her most was how passionate she was; as a human being and equine dental technician. She gave me the entire run down of equine dentistry – see our interview here.

International Cowgirl: When training a horse, many trainers resort to changing bits, saddles, techniques but never think that the “behavioral issue” might be the horse’s teeth. Why is that?

Sara: In many cases equine dentistry is overlooked and people simply jump to conclusions. They might automatically think green horse/green rider and think it is behavior, when really, it’s the horse’s teeth. Pain or discomfort makes ANYONE, animal or human, act up. Did you ever see the article about an “aggressive horse” that was euthanized because of his so called behavior issues? Check that out – checking a horses teeth needs to be on the checklist of things to be looked at when trying to correct or train a horse. [Aforementioned article here: This Horse Was Euthanized For Aggressive Behavior  ]

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Sara with one of her clients!

IC: What are the educational requirements for an equine dental technician?

Sara: In Florida you don’t have to be certified to be an equine dental technician but it varies by state. In some states you HAVE TO be a vet to float teeth. All dental technicians are not created equal. Most vets will be honest about their comfort level and expertise level when it comes to equine dentistry. In my opinion, a dental technician who went to school to get an education or is certified in some form or another has an advantage over someone who doesn’t and just decided to buy the dental tool off the internet one day. I got an education to be an equine dental technician so I could be good at what I do. I am dealing with people’s precious horses. Clients need to do their research on what the requirements per their state is. A better relationship between your vet and your dental technician is definitely something we need to see more of these days. A good working relationship with a good vet works wonders, especially if a horse needs sedated to get it’s teeth done. We are both in the business of caring for your animals, so working well together will never take away from each others expertise or reputation.

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Sara at work

IC: Why do I need to float my horses teeth?

Sara: You would be surprised at how many people do not believe in equine dentistry. They seem to think it is unnecessary. If wild horses don’t need it done, then why should my horse need it, type of debate. Wild horses are not feed a commercial grain diet or live in stalls or do what domestic horses or sport horses do so of course it is going to be different. Horses teeth are constantly growing in. They aren’t like ours where they grow in and you’re done. With the constant movement and grinding, sharp points or malocclusions (imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaws are closed) can occur which cut the cheeks or tongue, making it extremely uncomfortable for your horse to eat. If your horse doesn’t eat, he or she drops weight, we as horse owners, begin to worry and it all can come backs to their teeth being properly cared for.

IC: What is floating?

Sara: Floating is when you use a tool called a float that helps remove sharp enamel points from the teeth in the top and bottom jaw. Equine dentistry has come a long way compared to 30+ years ago. They used to just float teeth, now we can balance the teeth/jaw, take care of malocclusions which by definition is imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaws are closed such as hooks or waves. We have made tremendous progress and that is very exciting.

 

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Photo credit: Alberts Equine 

IC: How often should floating a horses teeth be done?

Sara: For horses 5 years of age and under, I would recommend just looking, not floating. Just evaluate how the teeth are coming in and how their mouth is looking. Horses in training (say 3 years old give or take) usually have wolf teeth that interfere with their bits. I would recommend their wolf teeth be removed and have an exam to check for caps. For horses 6-20 years of age that is just a trail horse or pasture pet, their exams/floating can be done once a year. Performance horses of course need a bit more maintenance due to the wear and tear of bits on their mouths and the differences in their diets. For performances horses they should get an exam every 6 months and float their teeth every 6 months. For horses aged 20 or older, they have to be done more often as they are beginning to run out of tooth. They don’t necessarily need their teeth floated but they should be examined for malocclusions. If malocclusions are not fixed, it could results in their mouth/jaw not being balanced. If you do not check an “elderly” horses teeth regularly it could end up causing more damage as the horse begins to run out of tooth in its later years. After all, you will want to know if you have to start feeding them “soup” for dinner. 🙂

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IC: How much does it cost?

Sara: To be honest, it really depends on what area you are in. If you are in a more horse-rich area, it can be cheaper but on average it costs about $100.

~~~

Do you have any questions or concerns about your horses teeth? If so, you can comment below or on any of our social media platforms OR even get answers right from the horses’ mouth (get it?) and contact Sara. Her information is right here below.

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As always, thanks for stopping by. Stay safe and God bless!

~~International Cowgirl

 

 

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