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                                                                      Equine Dentistry

We have domesticated a free running and free eating animal. In our management practices - confined them in small spaces, with regimented feeding programs.  One of the many problems that has developed from our management is dental disorders.  

Various equine literature emphasizes the need for dental care.  Much is now known about the benefits: Improved feed efficiency, reduced pain from sharp points, bit comfort, ease of training, improved chiropractic health, and so on.  

What is difficult to visualize is the problems that the equine dentist encounters. The following examples are normal horse dentition before and after good quality dentistry.

Equine Dental Float Image
Note the right skull image: several changes have occurred.  The first molar has been curved or a "bit seat" applied, which is indicated by the dark lines on the first upper and lower molars.  The bit seats help funnel feed into the molars, reduce the bit from bumping on the first molars, and eliminate soft tissue pinch that occurs from gingiva trapping between bit and tooth.  The sharp points have been reduced (or floated) on the outer edge of the upper molars and the inside edge of the lower molars.  Finally the incisors were tested and corrected for length.

Why Adjust the Incisors?
The most important aspect is to insure that the horse has a full comfortable grind.  The short clips above are a diagram of the cross section of the molars.  The images (although an exaggeration) demonstrate  the chewing motion and molar contact.  Note that in the normal horse, the incisors (or front teeth) slide for a short distance before the molars contact.  If the incisors are long, the molars have minimal contact.  As in the second video, this can occur from lack of wear or an equine dentist who does not adjust the incisors after performing work on the molars.
                                                     Molar Abnormalities
The following are a few diagrams of the more common dental disorders in horses.  Many are related to abnormal wear patterns. Most are a result of the horse unable to free graze on course forage.  The importance of equine dentistry is demonstrated below-
Equine Skull with hooks
Hooks - upper first molar and lower back molar
Equine Skull with Wave Mouth
Wave mouth - irregular wear pattern
Equine Skull with Ramps
Ramps - lower first molars
Equine Skull with excessive ridges
Excessive Transverse Ridges - molar tables have lateral grooves that inhibit jaw motion
Incisor Abnormalities
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