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Teeth and Horses


horse teethWhen the adult teeth of a human grow in, they have a set size that they will meet before the growth ends. Not so with horses. Though foals will lose their set of baby teeth just like young humans, adult horse teeth continue to grow all through their life. Their teeth are like this because in the wild, horses graze constantly on the grass that grows. When they take a bite, they pull the grass up and get bits of dirt in each bite. This dirt grinds against their teeth and wears them down over time. If the teeth did not continue to grow in, eventually their teeth would be worn down to nothing at all.

One of the pitfalls of modern horse raising, however, is that they have been removed from much of this natural grazing. This means that unless they're spending most of their time out in pasture their teeth are not being worn down evenly and efficiently. This can lead to serious and painful dental problems for your horse if you don't have them visited regularly by a veterinarian licensed in horse dentistry.

One of the most common problems with unevenly worn teeth is sharp hooks that will cause severe discomfort, especially when asking your horse to use a bit. A halter will press the cheek into these sharp hooks and as they move the cheek will be sliced by the tooth over and over. If left untreated this can cause infections of the mouth. Uneven wear can also cause the bite of your horse to shift, leading to unnatural chewing which will, over time, cause your horse to lose teeth. If your horse is having trouble with dental issues, you'll be able to tell and get the dentist out quickly. Often the first signs are seen in how they chew. In addition, they may salivate more than usual, eat slowly, or have feces with large clumps of food that hasn't been chewed.

Your equine dentist will solve these problems quickly and easily. Using a tool called a rasp, they will "float" your horses teeth. Floating is a form of filing the teeth down so that sharp hooks and uneven heights are removed and your horse can regain full use of their mouth and teeth. They won't be filed till they're smooth as horses do need some contours to grind their food up. They will be filed till they are roughly the same length and if necessary, the canines will be filed as well. If your horses teeth have grown too long to be filed, your dentist will clip the tooth. It is important that you don't try to do this yourself as an untrained person trying to trim a tooth can cause the tooth to crack or shatter.


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