If your horse starts losing weight with no explanation, if he starts dropping grain or unchewed “hay balls” out of his mouth when he eats, or if he starts acting fussy about the bit or being ridden, one standard piece of advice is to have his teeth checked. “Floating” a horse’s teeth is a procedure where the chewing surfaces are smoothed so that the horse can chew properly again, and while the vet is in there he will also look for any broken teeth or other problems that could be causing pain.
Equine dentistry might resolve these problems, but in reality you shouldn’t wait for it to become a problem before you have your horse’s teeth checked. Most vets now recommend floats be done once a year. While it may actually take much longer than a year for obvious problems to develop, there are several major advantages to taking a preventative approach.
Anyone who has dealt with weight loss in horses knows that the pounds come off more easily than they’re put back on. Dental problems can cause horses to lose weight because as they wear their teeth unevenly from chewing, they develop high and low areas that make it difficult to chew their food properly, and even points that cause sores in their mouths that affect their eating habits. Annual floats will ensure that your horse is always able to digest the full nutritional content of his feed. You should also plan on calling the vet right away if your horse abruptly stops eating, as a broken or infected tooth could be the culprit.
Time may be money, but feed is money too! Any feed that doesn’t directly benefit your horse is being wasted. Waste might happen because your horse has a sore mouth and drops his feed trying to chew more carefully, or in the case of hay or oats, it simply might not get digested all the way if the outer husk is not chewed properly. Regular dentals allow horses to chew the way nature intended them to, ensuring they benefit from the calories.
Horses that are dealing with constant mouth pain can be crabby, especially at feeding time. Dental problems are also a common cause of crabbiness under saddle. Most horses tolerate having a bit in their mouth pretty well, but that can change if they are dealing with chronic pain from a broken tooth or sores on their tongue. Not only can regular equine dentistry prevent chronic pain and discomfort, but your vet can also create what is called a bit seat, a beveling of the teeth that are closest to the bit to prevent the inner cheek from getting pinched between the bit and the teeth.
Finally, as with all preventative care, one of the significant benefits of routine equine dentistry is the ability to prevent bigger problems and reduce the chances of having to do a major procedure. Supporting dental health and good chewing habits will help keep them strong, and prevent breaking and infections that could require an emergency call and significant dental work.
Of course, all the equine dentistry in the world can’t help your horse if he already has bad or missing teeth. You can make eating easier for your horse by feeding soaked, softened hay pellets that require little or no chewing. For more information about feed for horses of all ages and stages of dental care, contact Sacate Pellet Mills today.