Equine Dentistry - including performance and aged horses

Meadows Veterinary Centre has been providing equine care to all pleasure and performance horses throughout the Adelaide Hills and southern suburbs for over 24 years. For more than 20 of those years Dr Greg Rodda has persued his special interest in Equine Dentistry initially training at the Colorado State Vet University and since has been involved numerous Post Graduate Courses as well as involved in the training other vets.

As only vets can administer and monitor sedatives and anaesthetics, use nerve blocks, treat infections, perform surgical procedures and take x-rays he can provide complete care and treatment.His tools cater for minature ponies through to large performance horses and includes a Power Float that was designed by and only available for use by veterinarians. This was done to prevent the tooth damage that has been seen in the past caused by other types of power floats. He is able to quickly and safely remove large hooks and ramps to achieve a balanced mouth which also includes bit seating.

Equine Dentistry at Meadows Veterinary CentreWhy go to that extent?

The answer is simple. He was and still is very concerned about the standard of care and treatment that some of our client’s horses are receiving from some lay “horse dentists”. He also recognizes the extreme importance of good dentistry. It has been proven that not only will good dentistry greatly improve performance, but can reduce feed bills with higher feed efficiency even prolong life!

Prolong Life?

Research at the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at the Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine has shown that abrasions in the lining of a horse’s mouth allow bacteria and toxins to enter the horse’s body putting stress on the heart, liver and immune systems. Over the years this will eventually take its toll. For this reason alone all horses benefit from a good dental routine.

How Often Should Dental Checks be Made?

It is highly recommended that dental checks are done every six months. This is because it usually takes around six months for the sharp edges on the outside of the upper premolars and molars to reappear. We use computerised records to remind our clients when their horse’s checkups are due.

What Symptoms Indicate That a Horse Needs Dental Work?

Dental abnormalities can present with a variety of symptoms such as loss of condition, quidding (dropping partly chewed feed), excessive salivation, bad breath and jaw and facial swellings. They are also associated with behavioural changes such as resistances, excessive playing with the bit, head tossing and head shyness, as well as hanging or pulling when being ridden or drive. BUT if you wait for these symptoms to appear your horse has already endured unnecessary suffering.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know?

Yes. That good dentistry is not just rasping any more. To thoroughly examine a horse’s mouth and provide thorough treatment a full mouth speculum (gag) is necessary. It is also much easier, quicker and kinder for both horse and veterinarian if dental work is performed using mild sedation. The use of sedative drugs and antibiotics can only legally be used under the direction of a veterinarian. This is due to the S4 drug regulations as well as being able to monitor the horse for any possible adverse reactions. At the Meadows Veterinary Centre we also have the option of using a crush, which also makes dentistry easier and safer for the horse and its handler.

More Information?

Yes there is more information available from the Centre in the form of a fact sheet that covers the anatomy, congenital abnormalities, wolf teeth, retained caps and explains correct “bit seating”.

If you have not established a Dental Routine for your horse/s please make an appointment today.

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