Ensuring Your Equine Companion's Dental Health: Common Dental Issues in Horses

As equestrians and horse lovers, we cherish the bond we share with our majestic equine friends. From grooming sessions to trail rides, we prioritize their care and well-being in every aspect of their lives. However, one aspect of horse health that sometimes gets overlooked is their dental hygiene. Just like humans and other animals, horses can experience a range of dental issues that can impact their overall health and comfort. Let’s explore some common dental problems in horses and how to recognize them.

Common Equine Dental Issues

• Equine Dental Malocclusions:


Malocclusions refer to misalignments or abnormalities in the horse’s teeth, jaws, or bite. These can cause issues with chewing, discomfort, and difficulty maintaining proper weight.


Symptoms may include: dropping food while eating, resisting the bit, head tilting, and uneven wear on teeth.

• Sharp Points and Hooks:


Horses’ teeth continuously erupt throughout their lives, which can lead to sharp points or hooks forming on their molars. These irregularities can cause pain and difficulty chewing.


Signs to watch for include dropping partially chewed food, excessive salivation, and reluctance to accept the bit.

• Dental Abscesses:


Dental abscesses can develop when bacteria infect a tooth’s root or surrounding tissues.


Horses may exhibit signs such as swelling on the face or jaw, sensitivity to pressure around the mouth, and difficulty eating.

• Periodontal Disease:


Just like in humans, horses can develop periodontal disease, which affects the tissues surrounding the teeth.


Symptoms include swollen or bleeding gums, bad breath, and difficulty chewing.

• Wolf Teeth Issues:


Wolf teeth are small, vestigial teeth located in front of the premolars. Problems with wolf teeth can cause discomfort, especially when a bit is inserted into the horse’s mouth.


Signs may include head tossing, resisting the bit, and difficulty maintaining contact.

• Fractured Teeth:


Horses can experience fractured teeth due to various reasons, such as chewing on hard objects or trauma.


Symptoms may include pain, swelling, difficulty eating, or drooling.

• Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis (EOTRH):


EOTRH is a progressive and painful dental disease affecting primarily older horses. It involves the resorption of tooth structure by the body’s own cells, along with abnormal cement production around the affected teeth. This leads to significant discomfort and difficulty in chewing.


Symptoms of EOTRH can include drooling, reluctance to eat, head shaking, and noticeable changes in behavior.

It’s essential for horse owners to regularly inspect their horses’ mouths for signs of dental issues. Checking for sharp edges, abnormalities in tooth wear, or any signs of discomfort can help catch problems early. Additionally, observing changes in eating habits or behavior can indicate underlying dental problems that require attention. Ignoring dental issues can lead to pain, weight loss, performance problems, and a number of other health concerns.

Tips From Your Equine Dentist

1. Regular Examinations: Schedule routine dental check-ups with a qualified equine veterinarian annually or more frequently if your horse has dental issues or shows symptoms. Early detection helps prevent serious problems.


2. Professional Care: Ensure your horse receives professional dental care, including floating (filing down sharp points and uneven surfaces) and cleaning, to maintain oral health. Equine Orthodontic Realignment Therapy (EORTH): EORTH is an innovative treatment approach aimed at correcting dental malocclusions and other dental abnormalities in horses. This specialized therapy involves realigning the teeth and jaws to improve chewing function and overall oral health. Our Equine Veterinarians at Adobe Veterinary Center can perform these procedures safely and effectively.


3. Dietary Considerations: Provide your horse with a diet rich in roughage to support natural chewing and tooth wear. Avoid overly processed feeds that may contribute to dental issues.


4. Maintenance Tools: Consider offering dental-friendly treats or toys to encourage natural chewing and dental maintenance between professional cleanings.


5. Prompt Attention: If you notice signs of dental discomfort like difficulty eating or behavior changes, seek veterinary attention promptly. Your vet can recommend appropriate treatment, including dental procedures or dietary adjustments.


6. Follow Recommendations: Adhere to your veterinarian’s advice for follow-up care, treatment plans, and preventive measures to keep your horse’s dental health in top condition.

Saddle Up for Healthy Smiles: Equine Dental Care at Adobe Veterinary Center

At Adobe Veterinary Center, we understand the unique dental needs of horses and provide comprehensive dental care services tailored to equine patients. Our experienced team offers routine dental examinations, floating, extractions, and treatment for dental abnormalities. We prioritize your horse’s comfort and well-being, ensuring a positive experience during dental procedures.

Don’t wait until your horse is in pain to address their dental health. Schedule an appointment with Adobe Veterinary Center today and take the first step toward ensuring your equine companion’s smile remains bright and healthy for years to come.

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