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Dentals - Ask the vet?

Ask the Vet - Dentals


What does a routine dental check up involve?


Visual and hands on examination of the horse’s head. Check incisors, jaw alignment and movement. Assess horse’s demeanour are they anxious or painful? Using a Hausmann gag, check tongue, cheeks, gums and lips, looking for ulcers, food packing, gaps between teeth(diastema) and areas of pain.  Teeth are checked for correct positioning, looseness, overgrowths, sharp points, ridges, fractures, caries (decay). Checking is carried out by feeling and visually with a light and mirror.  Creating a dental chart at every examination to record the dental history of the horse.


What are the benefits of bringing your horse to the clinic?

Adequate restraint in stocks or stable, held by experienced staff (if you prefer). Headstand for the horse, stool for the vet to improve visualisation, comfort for horse and quality of dental examination/work.  Access to all equipment, should a more extensive examination be required.

Dental Sedation - explain the benefits

Many owners are unsure of the benefits of sedating a horse during a routine dental check up, we do not just sedate horses because they are nervous or for misbehaviour. Sedation can actually benefit your horse's overall experience by helping in the following ways:-

  • Allows the vet to do a more thorough job
  • More comfortable for the horse and relaxes the jaw, enabling your vet to get to those hard to reach areas
  • Wears off 10 -30 mins after procedure
  • Cost of sedation is from £20


What equipment do you have?

Dental gags (different sizes) 

Motorised dental equipment for paring down sharp edges 

Powerful lights & mirrors to see all around the teeth 

Endoscope – the jewel in the crown for mouth examinations allowing us to visualise the whole mouth. 

Digital radiography – for the vision of the sinus, tooth roots, jaw swellings etc.   

Ultrasound – to examine swellings.

Gum cutters and extraction tools. 


Other than routine dentals, what other dental procedures can you carry out?


Treatment of dental overgrowth, fractured teeth, sore gums and diastema (space between 2 teeth) therapies.  Tooth extraction, management of tooth decay (caries) and dental scaling to remove tartar and encourage small defects to heal. Help manage elderly horses where teeth have become worn-out.


What signs might a horse display if it was having dental issues?


Sadly, sometimes absolutely no signs, horse’s survival instinct is very strong and they will often keep working and eating.  Others may drop weight, be slow to eat or drop food as eating (quidding – spit out balls of chewed up food).  Some may headshake or rub their faces or grind teeth up the wall.  Bad breath, facial swelling or nasal discharge can also be signs of dental problems.  Reluctance to accept the bit when being ridden or having a bridle put on. If you have any concerns about your horse, please ring the office and speak to a vet on 01728 685123.