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Horse Teeth Myths
 By Winniefield Park   •   12th Jan 2019   •   255 views   •   0 comments


What goes on deep in your horseís mouth tends to be a bit of a mystery. We know there are some big grinding teeth back there. And, thereís a big tongue, a narrow palate and some gums holding all the teeth together. And there are a few myths about all those teeth and other structures. Hereís a look at common misconceptions when it comes to horse teeth and dentistry.

A Horseís Teeth Will Grow Throughout Their Whole Life
This is definitely a myth, especially as our increased knowledge of horse care helps our horses live longer than ever. If a horse becomes very old, it may actually outlive the lifespan of its teeth. This is why some older horses have large gaps where teeth used to be. Some may be lost to damage or infection, but some simply stop growing and fall out.

You Can Tell the Age of the Horse By Its Teeth
This myth is partially true. Generally, a horse that has been in good health for its whole life will have a typical tooth growth pattern that can be used to determine its approximate age. But some horses will have teeth that seem much older than its chronological age if it has gone through an extended period of poor health. The rate of tooth growth is also determined by diet and environment. A horse that eats grass on sandy soil may have a faster aging teeth than one kept stabled and fed hay and grain. The stabled horse will have Ďyoungerí teeth and the one foraging on coarse, sandy pasture may have Ďolderí teeth, even though they are the same age.

They Donít Need a Dental Care
Just like having your own teeth checked every six to twelve months, your horse will need its teeth checked too. Unless youíve already identified that your horse needs care every six months, itís safe to say a once a year check is sufficient. Good dental care will contribute to your horseís good health and comfort.

Your Horse Will Need to Have Its Teeth Floated Once a Year
Your horse should probably have its teeth at least checked, but not necessarily floated, which files off any sharp edges or points, every year. Because the teeth grow at different rates in every horse, some may need their teeth floated every six months, and some can be left two years or more. While your vet is checking your horseís mouth, they will be checking for other problems like cavities and cracks, but infections, ulcers and other problems that can develop on a horseís palette, gums, cheeks and tongue.

Only Old Horses Have Dental Problems
Dental problems can develop early in some horses. By the time your horse is about two years old, it may need to have its teeth floated. Some young horses donít shed their baby teeth properly, and these may need to be removed so the adult teeth can grow in. Young horses can crack and lose teeth while playing, and any horse can get sharp bits of hay or wood caught, that can cause infection. So, as soon as your horse has teeth, itís time to start good dental care.

Your Horse May Need Bit Seat
Iíve written about bit seats before and since then, Iíve learned that they may not be necessary at all. In fact, because enamel is removed from the tooth when the bit seat is formed it may make the tooth more sensitive. The horse may not be able to use that tooth for grinding and abscess and a decaying root can occur.

Power Floating is Better Than Hand Floating
For years equine dental work was done with manual file-like tools. Power tools made the job somewhat easier - although it is still hard work. How much better one tool over the other is depends a lot on the person handling them.

A Veterinarian Wonít Know How to Look After Your Horseís Teeth
This myth gets a lot of people hot under the collar. In some places, there are certifications for equine dentists. And, there are certifications that really arenít official, and are really all about marketing. People who call themselves equine dentists may or may not have completed extensive training. Veterinarians however, do receive training in oral and dental care, as well as administering appropriate drugs such as sedatives and antibiotics. So before you call someone who claims to be an equine dentist, be sure you know exactly what training they have. They might be just someone who could afford to buy a power float and a few other tools.
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