Equine Dentistry in Flagstaff
At Continental Animal Wellness Center we have a passion to provide our patients with comfortable and functional mouths. Horses have complex hypsodont teeth that are constantly erupting throughout their lifetime. Horses have a set of deciduous or baby teeth and then as those teeth are shed they have a permanent set of teeth that erupt. Due to the complex nature of their teeth horses and donkeys require routine dental care. We have the ability to perform dentistry procedures both in our clinic and also in the field using our mobile stocks.
Our Equine Dental Services
The oral exam is the most important part of any dentistry work on horses. A good oral exam can not be performed without 4 things: a bright light, a speculum, a mirror and adequate sedation for the patient. It is estimated through different studies that 36-85% of horses have some type of abnormality in their mouth.
Oral exams are so important for horses of any age! In young horses we are looking for congenital malocclusions and malformed teeth, caps that are not shedding properly, wolf teeth, and sharp points that can lead to lacerations of the tongue and cheeks.
As horses age they can develop numerous conditions including gingivitis, periodontitis, caries, and wear abnormalities. They can also have fractured teeth and tooth root infections which can present with secondary sinus problems. Horses also can develop cancer in the mouth with the most common oral cancer being squamous cell carcinoma.
Periodontal disease affects between 50-75% of horses with caries affecting about 31% of horses. Yearly oral exams are so important to identify abnormalities and start to make changes to preserve the health of the horses teeth and provide comfort.
Odontoplasty is a medical term which references the contouring of the tooth surface but in the equine world we commonly use the term “floating” when referencing this procedure. Floating is a masonry term where you smooth the plaster/ concrete. Odontoplasty and floating can be used synonymously when referencing the same procedure of smoothing and leveling the teeth.
Typically, it is recommended to float teeth in horses on an annual basis. Some horses that are young, have missing teeth or malocclusions may need more frequent floating in order to keep their mouths functional.
Xrays are a very important first diagnostic step to help identify abnormalities in the mouth. Xrays can assess the teeth, occlusion and also the sinuses. In order to take proper xrays of the head of the horse they will need to be sedated and their mouth positioned appropriately.
Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis is a painful and progressive disease of middle aged and geriatric horses. This disease mostly affects the incisor and canine teeth and the severity increases with age. Affected horses try to avoid percussion of the affected teeth due to pain so will commonly present with decreased appetite, salivating, not wanting to take the bit, not grazing properly or not wanting to bite treats/ carrots with the front incisors. Commonly EOTRH will cause destruction of the tooth and secondary abscesses and draining tracts that can affect the surrounding bone. Radiographs are the best way to diagnose this disease and extractions of affected teeth are warranted.