Equine Dental: Disease and Complications

It's always better to prevent than it is to treat, especially with equine dentistry. If you're concerned that your horse has a dental issue, please see your veterinarian for an exam. (Photo courtesy of vcahospitals.com)

By Garrett Metcalf, DVM

It is no secret that horses are very reliant on their teeth for survival. The horse has to be able to apprehend and grind feed to get adequate nutrition to meet their daily caloric needs. Horses have teeth that constantly need to erupt to keep up with the physical demanding work of grinding food, but their teeth have a finite life span, and once they are used up there is nothing to replace them.

Good dentition also is important for the overall health, performance and well-being of a horse. Horses with inadequate or lack of dental care can have performance issues, weight loss, colic, dental pain and secondary sinus infections due to poor dentition. The goal of this article is to address more complicated dental issues and to inform the readers of how to avoid and detect dental issues as well as discuss treatment options if these problems arise.

Many owners are aware of common dental issues that horses face and the importance to get them addressed with routine dental care, but not all owners are aware of secondary complications that occur from dental problems. One of the most common complications that occurs from a bad tooth is tooth root abscesses that drain into the sinuses or from a tract out the bottom of the mandible or jaw.

To read more pick up a copy of the February 2019 NTFR issue. To subscribe call 940-872-5922.