Horses use their teeth for several functions, including eating, grooming and defense. Like most other pets, horses need regular checkups and maintenance for their teeth, which should be done by an equine veterinarian.
For National Pet Dental Health Month this February, Leslie Easterwood, a clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, has advice for keeping a horse’s teeth clean and healthy.
Easterwood said the most common dental issue for horses is the development of sharp enamel points that form naturally when horses grind their teeth.
“Horses develop sharp enamel points along the cheek side of their upper cheek teeth and along the tongue side of their lower cheek teeth,” she said. “These sharp enamel points can cause ulcerations down the insides of their cheeks and along the sides of their tongues.”
Easterwood said these ulcers can be painful, especially when a bit is used for riding. As a result, the horse may be resistant to riding or otherwise not behave normally.
There are many signs horse owners can look for that indicate their horse is having dental issues. According to Easterwood, these include drooling, dropping grain, refusing to eat long-stem roughage, performance issues and turning the head to the side when eating.
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