Table of Contents
Q. How often should my horse have his teeth floated?
How often your horse needs his teeth floated will depend on several
variables. One factor is age. If your horse is under 10 years old his
teeth are erupting faster than that of an older horse. He may need his
teeth floated as often as every six months. A horse older than 10 will
probably be fine on a yearly program.
Another factor is level of work. A pleasure or a pasture horse, may do well on a 6-12 month schedule where as a performance horse will greatly benefit from a 3-6 months schedule.
There are many other factors that come into play. The best way to determine if your horse needs dental care is to schedule an appointment with your local dental technician or dental veterinarian. They can then tailor a program for each individual horse. You wouldn't wait until your horse was lame to schedule a farrier visit, so don't wait until your horse is dropping grain to call in a dental tech.
Birth: To check for any congenital defects.
Under 10: Every 6 months, beginning at 6 months old.
Over 10: Yearly.
Performance Horses: 3-6 months.
Seniors: Check ups every 3-6 months, however actual floating is done yearly in most cases.
Back to topQ. What does the term floating mean?
A. The term floating usually refers to the removal of sharp points from the horse's cheek teeth. The horse's maxilla is wider than it's mandible, thus the outer edge of the upper teeth have nothing to occlude with and like wise for the inner edge of the lower teeth. This is what allows these points to form, like uneven wear on a tire tread. This is just basic floating, the term can however, be broadened to refer to complete-mouth care. This means all the horse's dental needs are addressed. A horse's dental needs may include, rounding of the canines, incisor reduction, wave reduction, treatment of the gums for periodontal disease, evaluation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) etc.A good dental technician or veterinarian will evaluate each horse's individual needs and then treat accordingly. Floating may be done using hand floats, or using specially designed power tools. Both are great options to keeping the horses mouth healthy and comfortable.
Back to topQ. What are bit seats, and why are they important to my performance horse?
A. A bit seat is created by rounding the first set of cheek teeth right where the bit sits any time we ask the horse to collect, turn, stop, or do anything that involves contact. A bit seat makes certain that the horse cannot get his cheek caught in between the bit and his teeth, and also ensures he cannot chew on it. This allows the rider control and takes away the horse’s excuse to act up. A performance float can drastically improve a horse in the show ring and at home.
Back to topQ. Do all horses need their teeth floated?
YES! YES! YES! All horses, regardless of breed, gender, age, type of work, need at the very least annual dental care. Do not wait until you see signs of a dental problem, this means that the problem is already hurting your horse. Dental care is all about preventing these problems. All horses need the sharp edges that form on the edges of the teeth removed, as well as their chewing surfaced leveled, and their incisors kept even .The main purpose being to allow them to eat efficiently and comfortably as well as to prevent disease. Each horse will receive additional benefits from this, a few examples are given below.
The performance horse: needs to be s comfortable doing his job and dentistry helps to maximize his performance potential, by allowing a full range of motion of his jaw.
The young horse: needs to be checked for the timely shedding of “caps” (baby teeth), remember they have caps on their cheek teeth as well as their incisors.
The older or dentally challenged horse: needs to be checked for loose and or diseased teeth and periodontal changes
The pasture horse: needs dentistry to prevent health problems like choke, and colic pasture horses will RARELY show signs that something is amiss until the problem is in its advanced stages
Back to topQ. Does my horse need to be sedated to have his teeth floated?
Yes. In order to do a thorough exam and provide complete dental care
your horse must be sedated. There are rare exceptions to this, but not
Back to topQ. What is the difference between wolf teeth and canines?
Wolf teeth are the horse's "first premolar," however they are not big
rectangular teeth like the other premolars, but little fang like teeth.
They are located just before the first cheek tooth, and can cause
severe pain for the horse when riding with a bit. A horse can have both
uppers and lowers, but the most commonly seen are uppers. These teeth
are best removed before the horse is two, as the root is less
developed, but they can be removed at any age.
Canines are the male's fighting teeth. They are located in the interdental space between the cheek teeth and the incisors. Males usually have uppers and lowers, however, these teeth are usually not present in females. Canines can become very sharp and dangerous if left unattended, so a dental technician or veterinarian must file them down regularly. These teeth are not usually removed unless the tooth is diseased as their root is quite long and is a difficult shape to extract.
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Q. How do I find someone qualified to float my horse's teeth?
A. Here are three questions to ask a potential equine dental professional:Do you use a speculum? The answer should be yes. A speculum is a device used to hold the horse's mouth opened for dental procedures and exams. If a speculum is not used it is not possible to do a proper exam nor is it possible to complete procedures. A speculum also allows the practioner to palpate the teeth to check not only for malocclusions and sharp points but also for any diseased teeth.
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Q. What is the difference between an Equine Dental Technician, and an Equine Dentist?
A. These two terms are often used interchangeably; many people believe this is incorrect, and many believe its silly to get into such semantics over a title. An equine dental technician is a lay person with special training in the field of equine dentistry. Many people believe that only a doctor (ie a dvm, or a dds) should use the term dentist. The most important thing is to make sure who ever is working on your horse is trained to do so, and if sedation is need make sure it is a veterinarian doing so.
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Q. Do other equines, like donkeys and mules need their teeth floated?A. Yes! Donkeys and mules need regular care just like horses. No exceptions.
Q. What is the cost of having my horse's teeth floated?A. The cost of having your horses teeth floated will usually depend on the amount of work that needs to be done. This depends on the frequency your horse is floated, his age, his mouth's conformation, and many other factors. Equidentistry's basic price list is as follows and is subject to change. First time visits usually average 150-200 and go down after that. These prices do not include sedation which can be administered by my veterinarian or yours. The veterinarians I work with typically charge between 35 to 75 for sedation, depending on your horse's individual needs.
Last revised: 03/01/11
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