Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Straight to the Horse's Mouth

Thehorse.com - Full Article

by: University of Illinois
October 12 2008, Article # 12883

To prevent your horse from developing painful dental conditions have your veterinarian do a thorough oral exam every year.

Although equine dentists cannot have their patients lie down in a reclining chair for easy access to those hard-to-reach molars, the field has progressed greatly in the past 20 years. It is now possible to perform a root canal or a tooth extraction on a horse, just as in humans.

In 1988, the American Veterinary Dental College was formed, allowing veterinarians who have already completed their degree to train further to become a board certified veterinary dentist. Carol Akers,DVM, is a dentistry resident at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana. She explains that in contrast to human teeth :the majority of a horse's 40 or so teeth are hypsodont, meaning they erupt throughout most of the horse's life, or up until age 30 or 35."

Because of this and the fact that horses do more grinding with their teeth than cats and dogs, it is imperative they receive routine dental care. In addition, horse teeth do not neatly line up as do human teeth. Their maxilla, or upper part of their skull, is wider than their mandible. This anatomical arrangement causes horses to form razor sharp points on some of their teeth that can lead to significant problems such as ulcers on their tongue and inside cheek.

Akers mentions that signs owners might see indicating a horse may have a dental problem are:

* Large fibers and whole pieces of grain in the horse's manure
* Weight loss
* Reaction to the bit
* Tilting of the head while eating
* Quidding (dropping large clumps of food on the ground while eating)

Thehorse.com - Full Article

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