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"wave mouth" & other malocclusions, are they all diagnosable with visual inspection?

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    "wave mouth" & other malocclusions, are they all diagnosable with visual inspection?

    So THIS was actually the question I wanted to post here before we had our crazy "leprosy legs" come up (improving btw, will post pics tomorrow)

    Are all dental malocclusions able to be diagnosed with visual inspection?

    I ask because the boy started giving me some issues - DEAD heavy on my left hand. This has always been his "good" bendy side - where I could get just that "outside of the eye" flexion. Now he is actively resisting any contact on the left rein - he will curl his neck to the left, but the head is still cocked to the right (left ear stays lower), or brace with his neck and head leaning to the right with no contact on the right rein or just flat out try to pull my left arm out.

    Teeth were done in Feb, vet, at the time, said he had almost nothing going on and just did a manual rasp. I've asked before if he could possibly have a ramp or wave that was subtle but could cause issues (he's an Arabian with a not so dishy forehead but a VERY deep jowl tapering to a small mouth). Maybe time to have a different vet with a dental specialty take another look? Should we get x-rays or just go with their visual inspection results?

    Wave mouth, and malocclusions can definitely be seen and felt by a competent practitioner. Other problems like tooth fractures need x-rays. A second opinion would not hurt, trust your gut.


      Most things are apparent with a good visual inspection. Did the vet actually visualize all of the teeth (i.e. sedate the horse and use a full mouth speculum, a light source, and perhaps a mirror to see all of the teeth), or did he do the tongue-out-the-side-of-the-mouth-try-to-get-a-glimpse-as-the-horse-tries-to-pull-away "inspection"?

      I used to work for a vet who specialized in dentistry and some of the worst mouths she did had been declared as "fine" by the horse's regular vet.
      As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.


        Wave mouths are simple to detect when palpated. Many horses mouths have the characteristics of a wave mouth, but not to the degree that they are considered a malocclusion. Visual inspections are overrated when it comes to detecting the smallest hooks that may irritate and create the type of behaviors the OP describes. Arabs mouth need very precise floating and extra attention needs to be paid to the upper, last molars. Even the smallest hook can create discomfort because their mouths are so tight.


          Original Poster

          did he do the tongue-out-the-side-of-the-mouth-try-to-get-a-glimpse-as-the-horse-tries-to-pull-away "inspection"?
          - speculum and headlamp but without sedation. I was surprised he tolerated the rasp without it.

          Arabs mouth need very precise floating and extra attention needs to be paid to the upper, last molars.
          indeed. Many "Arabian" folks I've talked to mention the need for extra attention even without a very exotic head shape; the vets sometimes make it seem like it's not that big of a deal.

          We have a dressage clinic in 16 days. Uggh. Between this and the legs... I would really like to get it sorted and not miss the clinic.


            How old is he? I would get a specialist dentist or dentist vet to look again.


              Original Poster

              16 years old.


                My first horse needed to be floated every 6 months. He always had a way of reminding me when it was due. Have you also considered other issues like back soreness? This can cause the head tilting and resistance as well.




                    Originally posted by Eventer13 View Post
                    It's quite difficult to do a thorough exam and float without sedation. Actually, the equine dentist I spoke to, who is also a vet, said he considers it impossible.... His floats are pretty fantastic too. It's also very difficult to get the back of the mouth (11s) adequately without sedation, and those teeth can cause the most problems in terms of comfort.
                    It is difficult but not impossible. I'm sure it would feel impossible if floating teeth was only one of the many hats a busy equine practitioner had to wear. Horses are capable of more than he gives them credit for.


                      I'd have a chiro look at him too. Could also very easily be something going on in his neck/poll.


                        My horse has a weird mouth and I have had one heck of a time finding bits that I can ride her in without pinching her fat inner cheeks .

                        This spring...same thing happened to her. Dead heavy on the left rein. Very uncomfortable for both of us. Her teeth had just been done in March. I took her to the vet suspecting further mouth issues. Mouth and TMJ were fine. It was the right side of her back that was reactive and I suspect, she was not pushing off as well with the right hind (her weaker hind) so boom...lay on the left rein and have me "carry" her. She was adjusted I immediately paid more attention to straightness and not allowing as much bend in the neck going right and she corrected very fast. I have been riding more transitions and incorporating shoulder in and she has been doing much better. It probably also didn't hurt that she has had most of about 6 weeks off while I moved.



                          Are you talking about my Arab? His crazy crookedness and head tilting has improved immensely with a visit from the saddle fitter and attention to sore hocks. Jury is still out which side was more sore, left or right, but he was showing it by not wanting to bend/flex left.