GOOD QUALITY DENTAL CARE
There are obstacles to thorough examination and treatment of dental issues in horses as they have tight cheeks and a small mouth opening relative to the size and number of teeth they possess.
To provide good quality dental care for every horse requires many things. A thorough examination alone needs various gags, lighting, special mirrors, dental probes and often sedation, not to mention knowledge and ability. A vast array of equipment and expertise is required to diagnose the correct treatment so as to have your horse feeling good and performing at their best.
In our practice we decided many years ago we would provide a high quality equine dental service for horses and so we invested in high quality equipment and training. This includes completion and certification by Dr. Oliver Liyou of 3 Equine Dentistry courses.
WHAT ARE THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF GOOD DENTAL CARE FOR YOU AND YOUR HORSE?
For the average horse, the cost of a dental procedure (thorough examination, diagnosis, treatment and prevention) spread out over the year equates to about $3.00 per week. Looking at some of the other equine costs – feed, equipment, facilities, foot care, worming, vaccination, agistment, travel and club/competition fees – the benefits of regular dental care as a proportion of total expenses make this a very cost effective exercise.
- Little or no pain – Many dental problems quickly become painful either while chewing or being ridden
- Good health – Gum disease occurs with poor dental care and causes pain and eventually tooth loss. Gum disease indirectly impacts on health through poor condition and a weaker immune system and potentially directly as a source of harmful bacteria which can spread to other organs in the body.
- More efficient chewing – Ability to better graze and process more grass each day so less processed food is needed to maintain condition.
- Less food wasted – Many horses with dental issues will drop a lot of food onto the ground, which may be good for the local bird and rat population, but not for your horse or your wallet.
- Improved behaviour and performance – Sources of oral discomfort such as wolf teeth or cheek ulcers from sharp points on teeth can cause all manner of problems when riding/training your horse. These might include poor head carriage, head tossing or rearing….because it hurts!
- Longer lifespan – As with people, there is a strong correlation between good teeth and a longer lifespan.
- Condition later in life – No one likes to see skinny old horses and a key to keeping them in good condition is good teeth. It is much better to prevent dental
problems, advanced gum disease and tooth loss in older horses with regular preventative dentistry throughout their lives. Like us brushing our teeth. However, in some older horses, problems do occur and we can certainly address these to improve their lot.
- Other issues – Another benefit of having a vet attend to your horses’ teeth is that other issues such as foot problems, lumps and bumps, lameness and general health can be addressed at the same time.