From his incisors to his premolars, each of your horse’s teeth has an important part to play – read on to find out how to care for them with advice from Equine Dental Technician (EDT) Jonathan Keen.
At the age of five your horse’s teeth are buried deep within his upper and lower jaw. These teeth erupt at a rate of 2-3mm per year (wearing themselves down as a self sharpening mechanism) until the age of 18-20 when the eruption rate slows and eventually ceases. If your horse lives out in a field of coarse grass the eruption process can happen quite naturally, but due to the way the majority of us keep our horses it’s much more difficult for those horses to wear down their teeth at the necessary rate (eating soft grass, soft hay, wearing bits and time in the stable are all contributing factors). Here’s how to ensure your horse’s pearly whites stay in excellent condition.
Essential dental care
As an owner you of course want to ensure that you take care of your horse’s teeth and gums so aside from ensuring regular dental check ups with your Equine Dental Technician (EDT) or vet there are four simple steps you can take to help keep your horse’s teeth and gums healthy:
Pay attention to your horse’s eating and general behaviour. For example, dropping feed, quidding hay (dropping balls of food or hay after chewing), drinking during feed time, slow eating, poor digestion of feed and more seriously colic or choke can indicate a dental problem. It’s also worth considering any behavioural problems, as being linked to your horse’s teeth (just as you would his back or saddle fit) until you eliminate this as a possibility.
Ensure no feed is getting trapped between your horses incisors by using a stiff toothbrush to removes excess feed or grass build up.
As well as brushing away any build up, which is especially useful for older horses, many horses will benefit from having their mouths flushed with clean water from a hose or a large dose syringe.
Feed him from the ground – this is beneficial as it’s how horses were designed to eat and ensures that their jaw is aligned when breaking down food reducing the risk of abnormal wear to the teeth.
When to get his teeth checked
It’s recommended that a horse in work and stabled below the age of 18 should be checked every six months. A horse out at grass (such as a brood mare or a retired horse) should be checked every 12 months unless otherwise advised or if there are any signs of pain or discomfort.
To find a qualified equine dental technician in your area visit www.baedt.com
More about our expert
Jonathan is a qualified Equine Dental Technician who runs Pimbury Equine in Gloucestershire. Find out more at www.pimburyequine.co.uk