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Horse dentistry

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  • Horse dentistry

    I just had my horses teeth checked, only one of 4 needed work. Of course he absolutely hates the dentist and has to be heavily sedated and even then makes the job difficult. I can't help but wonder if I'm helping or hurting this horse. He is checked annually and there always seems to be a lot of grinding and then the 'balancing' of the fronts.....it seems each time he takes down some of the molars the fronts too have to be cut so everything lines up. The dentist has a vet who works with him (Wis law) and they both have good longstanding reputations.
    So here is the problem....this horse is always sore afterward and I see little change in his eating before or after, he is not a hard keeper, yet he always gets a lot of grinding done.....when does this get to be too much. He also got 'bit seats' again which I didn't know till I looked at the bill. I wonder why you would need to round that first molar more than once. Originally I was told they were done so the bit worked better but now I've looked and the bit doesn't come close to those teeth. Hmmmm.
    I began doubting power floats after seeing a different dentist who used to totally work with power tools but but now believes they do damage to the teeth by heat and vibration. He uses mostly hand tools and believes 'less is more'. He doesn't do bit seats saying there is no reason to. Unfortunately he is from out of state so I'm using my regular dentist.
    Because this is in the back of my mind and because my horse gets so sore I did some computer searches and found there are studies that back up what my out of state guy says. If my horses ends up with some loose teeth do to power tools
    My horses are foragers, they are out in rolling pastures, brush, trees and supposedly that 'natural' lifestyle maintains a good mouth, (or not ?)
    So what's everyone else doing??

  • #2
    I have only had one horse need the "power tools". It was a rescue TB brood mare who's front teeth were keeping her from eating properly ( they were uneven in length) how they got that way is a mystery to me. Anyways, I used a dentist at my vets and after much grinding down to get them the same length , as well as floating the others she was very, very sore. But for her it needed to be done so she could chew properly and she started to gain after that. I have never had a " bit seat" on my horses but it may depend on the type of bit you use? I don't even float every year, they don't need it. Some people float 2x a year. I guess it depends on the horse. I kind of believe in some things that " less is more" too.


    • #3
      there are different philosophies about the teeth grinding. i prefer to use dentists who do as little as possible and only as much as is needed.

      i have a horse who has been missing a couple molars since he was 4 - so he has to have some grinding done just to keep that side comfortable.

      the dentist i use was trained by my previous dentist who retired so the continuity has been great. they'll also do a horse with hand tools if they object to the power tools.

      i have occasionally had a horse out for training that had their teeth done in a much more 'aggressive' manner, grinding away much more than i thought was really needed for the horse to have a happy mouth.

      i wouldn't worry about trying a different dentist - you know the horse better than anyone.
      'What's in your trunk?'
      Free tools for Trainers and Riders


      • #4
        My vet floats by hand. He thinks it is better for the horse. I am impressed that he can do 5 or 6 of mine at a time because hand floating takes some arm strength! If I were the OP, I would try a hand float this year.
        Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


        • #5
          I used a vet that did it by hand - but at double the cost and his getting sloppy I switched back to my old vet. My old vet now does only dentistry and uses power tools. That said he is VERY cautious and I've never had an issue with my horses after he's done them. He has also NEVER done a "bit seat". He evens out the teeth and moves the jaws sideays to make vertain they can grind their food correctly without any "catches" before he considers the job done.

          I think I'd try to get another opinion. Does dentist look into back of horses mouth with a "miner like" head lamp so he/she can see the molars way in the back near where the bit goes? They tend to be the worst. My vet doesn't mess with the front teeth very often.
          Now in Kentucky