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Equine Dental Exams
WRITTEN BY: Cheryl Sutor   [1997]

What does the exam consist of?
Floating: The horse's teeth are floated using a rasp to remove sharp edges. If the veterinarian only pulls the horse's tongue to the side while floating with the other, he hasn't executed a thorough dental exam.

Speculum: A speculum is an instrument the veterinarian should use on every horse, which has mouthplates to lock the mouth open and helps keep the tongue out of the way. If the tongue is not kept out of the way by using a speculum, ulcers on the tongue can develop caused by the sharp edges on the rasp.

How often should I have my horses teeth floated?
It is essential to have 2 dental examinations per year for horses whose permanent teeth have not erupted yet, and for horses who are over 15 years old. For mature horses (usually age 6-14) whose permanent teeth have erupted, once a year is sufficient.

What does the veterinarian look for?
  • Sharp molar edges that rub your horse's tongue or insides of his cheeks and create sores.
  • Trapped pieces of grain or hay that develop an abscess on the inside of the horse's mouth.
  • Tooth misalignments can make the horse work harder to chew his food.
  • Cracked molars allowing decay, destructive tooth roots or invading bacteria.
  • Wolf teeth may interfere with a bit in his mouth.
  • Deciduous teeth may not allow permanent teeth to erupt.
  • Inflammation of the gums may cause problems from periodontal disease.

Where do I find a Dental Technician?
Most veterinarians can perform dental exams and floating on your horse. Ask your veterinarian for details. Below, I have listed 2 associations where you may find lists of certified Dental Technicians.

1. The International Association of Equine Dental Technicians, Inc.
P.O. Box 6095, Wilmington, DE 09804 Phone: 1-800-334-6095.

2. The World Wide Association of Equine Dentistry, Inc.
P.O. Box 807, Turner Valley, AL T01 2A0, Canada

How much do dental exams cost?
A 20-40 minute dental exam will usually cost between $30 and $70. This usually does not include (if used) sedatives, farm-call fees/travelling fees, or a first-time floating fee (for horses who have never been floated before).

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This article was published on: 1997. Last updated on: 1997.