From Endurance to Dressage
Dental Health: Part 3 (end)
Along with his colleague, Laura Blanton, DVM, and their sponsor, Boehringer Ingelheim, John Tolley, DVM presented the following text at the Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital Client Seminar held on March 15, 2012. Each year, BVH hosts a seminar to focus on an aspect of equine health care. This year’s topics were “Routine Dental Care is Essential to Your Horse’s Health” and "Care and Feeding of the Older Horse.”
FLOATING & PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE
An oral examination should be an essential part of an annual physical examination by a veterinarian. Every dental exam provides the opportunity to perform routine preventative dental maintenance. The end result is a healthier, more comfortable horse.
Routine maintenance of a horse's teeth has been historically referred to as "floating." Floating removes the sharp enamel points. Occlusal equilibration is the term now used to describe smoothing enamel points, correcting malocclusion, balancing the dental arcades and correcting other dental problems listed under "Common Dental Problems." A complete oral examination should precede any dental procedures.
When turned out on pasture, horses graze almost continuously, picking up dirt and grit in the process. This, plus the silicate in grass, wears down the teeth. Stabled horses, however, may not give their teeth the same workout. Feedings are more apt to be scheduled, not continuous, and include processed grains and hays. Softer feeds require less chewing. This may allow the horse's teeth to become excessively long or to wear unevenly. Adult teeth erupt throughout life and are worn down by chewing.
Because the horse's lower rows of cheek teeth are closer together than the upper rows of cheek teeth and the horse chews with a sideways motion, sharp points form along the edges of the cheek teeth. Points form on the outside (cheek side) of the upper teeth and tongue side of the lower teeth. These points should be smoothed to prevent damage and ulceration of the cheeks and tongue.
Routine examination and correction is especially important in horses that are missing teeth or whose teeth are not wearing properly because of misalignment. For example, if the front or last cheek teeth are out of alignment, hooks can form. Untreated, these hooks can become long or sharp enough to damage soft tissue. Short hooks or other malocclusions may be corrected with hand instruments. Tall malocclusions may be corrected with motorized instruments. Motorized instruments have replaced molar cutters and chisels because there is less chance of tooth damage. Tall malocclusions may require several treatments spread over 12 to 18 months.
Click photos for larger views and captions.
THE AGE FACTOR
The age of a horse affects the degree of attention and frequency of dental care required. Consider these points:
3/5/2014 09:54:39 pm
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
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