Contact US: 207-336-3864 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for appointments
1. Yearly dental visits. WHY??? Horses' teeth erupt up through the gum continually until the tooth's life is used up. As they erupt through the gums sharp points form. These points are what may cause your equine partner discomfort and despair. The dentist will safely check your horse and take these points off and also address any anomalies within the horse's mouth that over time, if not dealt with on a routine basis may shorten the life of it's teeth. When a horse's teeth have sharp or are overlong in places thus creating an uneven grinding surface they may not chew thoroughly. This may lead to soreness, irritability, choking, colic, or weight loss. At the very least they are not likely to achieve maximum absorption of all the nutrients that you are feeding them.
2. Dental visits more often. WHY?? Young horse's begin to lose their caps (baby teeth) at the age of two. As a rule it is a fairly uneventful process, however depending on their jaw's alignment, how naturally they are fed/kept or not, and diet/nutrition, caps may be difficult for them to lose. They may cause pain/soreness for prolonged periods which may result in difficulty eating, listless behavior, and poor attitude among other things. Once they have their permanent teeth by the age of 4-4.5 yrs, these teeth are quite soft and may develop sharper points faster than older horses. Add to this the fact that often these young horses are being put into training, asked to tolerate a bit and pressure on their face and it should be obvious why staying ahead of the points may be beneficial.
3. Why not just wait until my horse is having trouble eating? Many people seem to think that if their horse is in good weight and eating it's rations there's no need for the dentist. There is no denying that some horses are able to go for longer periods without the standard "float" or filing of the teeth. This is related to a number of factors including: genetics, jaw alignment, feeding practices, how stress-free their life is, amount of work they do, bitting, rider-style, how they are kept, etc. The problems with "waiting" include: Not being able to schedule an appointment at "last minute", horse loses weight that is difficult to get back on even after the teeth are done, problems that develop over time such as ramps and waves that cause one arcade (upper or lower) to be ground down much faster than the opposite thus causing imbalance that is not easily corrected, possible emergencies such as CHOKE and COLIC. For the roughly $70/yr to have the equine dentist check and float your horse the value of avoiding all of those possibilities seems worth it. Excellent article with great pictures here
4. What can I expect? Expect us (Steve, Kristene or Jana) to arrive on time with our tools, maybe in need of some water (about 2 gallons) - warm for winter and cool for summer. We will want your horse to have a halter on and like to be alone with the horse in his stall at first. We expect that this procedure is not "pleasant" for the horse and do our best to be quiet and gentle and allow the horse to move, have breaks, etc. as needed to make the experience as stress-free as possible. Sometimes we may ask to work on the horse outside, in a larger space. This may help the horse feel more free and less "trapped" and frequently allows a horse that looks like it can't be done without sedation, to have a positive experience. Our charges are $70/horse for a standard yearly float, this price is less ($60) for 6-month floats. There is a barn-call fee of between $15 and $30 depending on distance traveled, number of horses and whether it is an "emergency" that we had to reschedule others to accommodate. We will happily answer any questions you may have and encourage you to know as much as possible about your horse's mouth.
DO LOOK THE GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH
A True Story: We received a call from a woman who had adopted a mini horse and had been "managing" her incisors (front teeth) with the oversight of her vet by filing them on occasion. She was calling because she was concerned that there were teeth that needed to be removed. She thought they may be canines (a tooth primarily found in stallions/geldings that was meant as a fighting tusk) and they seemed to be too long. We took the long trip and were met with a mini that was thin and seemed very tired/depleted. Upon examination it was determined that the first molars on the lower jaw (due to an underbite) had grown nearly 1/4 of an inch into the upper gum. OUCH! This was going to take a long time to file these down by hand, and we didn't figure this mini would stand for use of power-tools without sedation. Steve decided to try the power tools and this mini actually stood for it. We received a call from her delighted/relieved owner a few days later informing us that she was acting more like a mini, eating her feed in a more timely manner and already putting on weight! She wanted to know when he could come back and work with the rest of her herd.