Your horse’s mouth, where the carrots, hay and money go, but have you ever had a chance to look inside?
A sedated oral exam with a speculum is a great way for your veterinarian to get a detailed look at the inside of your horse’s mouth. Feeling for sharp points on the upper premolars, while important, can only give your veterinarian a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to your horse’s true oral health. It is important to catch dental problems early!
If your horse starts behaving abnormally, dental problems should be considered as a potential cause. Waiting too long may increase the difficulty of remedying certain conditions or may even make remedy impossible. Horses with dental problems may show obvious signs, such as pain or irritation, or they may show no noticeable signs at all. This is because some horses simply adapt to their discomfort.
Look for the following indicators of dental problems to know when to call your veterinarian for a dental exam:
1. Loss of feed from mouth while eating, difficulty with chewing, or excessive salivation.
2. Loss of body condition.
3. Large or undigested feed particles (long stems or whole grain) in manure.
4. Head tilting or tossing, bit chewing, tongue lolling, fighting the bit, or resisting bridling.
5. Poor performance, such as hanging on the bridle, failing to turn or stop, even bucking.
6. Foul odor from mouth or nostrils, or traces of blood from the mouth.
7. Nasal discharge or swelling of the face, jaw or mouth tissues.
Fun Fact – an adult horse has 36-40 teeth! With such a big mouth it can be hard to get a thorough look at each tooth. The Equine Center now has a Dental Endoscope that allows the veterinarian to get a detailed image of each tooth to identify problems early. Since it is almost time for fall vaccines, if your horse has not had their annual physical and dental exam consider calling to schedule an appointment with us today!