Looking your horse in the mouth
Last week, we were fortunate enough to have our horses’ teeth checked and floated by Colorado State University Equine Dentistry Professor Dr. Connally and three of his fourth year students. It took them two long days to look inside each and every equine mouth around here.
Horses, unlike humans, have teeth that erupt continuously for 25 to 30 years. In the wild, horses ingest silica that wears down their teeth naturally. In domesticated horses, a diet of hay, grass and grain is not abrasive enough to wear down a horse’s teeth. The teeth continue to erupt without adequate wear and can form sharp points, or hooks, where the wear pattern is uneven. The uneven wear can then cause ulceration along the tongue and gums that, left untreated, can hinder a horse’s ability to eat properly and ultimately affect the horse’s overall health.
After a basic examination that includes the vet grabbing hold of the huge horse tongue and checking out the teeth with a flashlight, the vets determine if teeth need floated. If the horse is in need of some dentistry, the vets then sedate the horse and use a speculum to keep the mouth open.
The vet then uses either a traditional file to round off any points or what is called the Power Float, which is pretty much a power drill attached to a rotating file.
Once the dental overgrowths are under control, the horse is released and, usually, won’t need additional work for two to three years.