Regular dental examinations and tooth floating are very important for horses, especially as they start to get older. Through normal “wear and tear,” horse’s wear their teeth unevenly. This can cause very sharp edges to the teeth, which can cut the inside of your horse’s mouth or his tongue. Many of these sharp edges are on the very back of the last teeth, and can be very hard to reach. Routine floating (or filing) will smooth out the sharp points and help to keep your horse’s mouth healthy. But who should do the floating? Many people make an appointment with their veterinarian to have their horse’s teeth floated and some people use an “equine dentist,” but there are good reasons why you should use a veterinarian for teeth floating. First, your veterinarian has had extensive training and experience in handling horses and in performing dental work. Second, veterinarians have access to different equipment than many “equine dentists” do not. Second, veterinarians can give medications to sedate your horse during the procedure. “Equine dentists” and farriers can not legally obtain these medications. Veterinarians will use an oral speculum to hold your horse’s mouth open. This also helps the veterinarian to see all the way to the back of your horse’s mouth. Your veterinarian may reach his entire arm, all the way up to the elbow, into your horse’s mouth to be able to feel his back teeth. The mouth needs to be examined with a strong light and dental mirror to assess for food packing between teeth, caries, missing teeth, sharp points and hooks, to name just some of the problems routinely encountered. It is not possible to carry out this procedure properly without sedation to keep the horse calm and everyone around safe. The next time you have your veterinarian out to do your horse’s annual healthcheck or give his vaccinations, be sure to ask for a brief dental exam. Your veterinarian will feel the outside of your horses front teeth and will be able to tell you if your horse needs a complete dental exam and a teeth float.
Red Barn Veterinary Services offers a routine Dental Examination and Float for a very reasonable price of $120 plus farm call and sedation.