Straight From The Horse’s Mouth. Equine Dentistry Information

Going to the dentist is an important part of your oral and physical health, but did you know that dentistry is also important for horses as well?

Horses have hypsodont teeth meaning they continually erupt (grow) the horses entire life. Over time horses can form sharp points and irregularities such as hooks, ramps, waves, and steps in their mouth. Horses teeth form sharp point on the outside on the top and inside on the bottom. Sharp points are normal for a horse to have, but they need to be maintained to prevent ulcers in the mouth. To help correct these sharp points and irregularities floating the horse’s teeth by a trained professional is recommended.

Definition of floating is rasping the sharp points on the horse’s teeth. First a dental exam is needed to evaluate the horse’s mouth. A head speculum and good lighting is needed for a thorough exam.

Symptoms your horse might need their teeth floated:

  • Losing weight
  • Chewing funny (tilting head)
  • Riding problems
  • Dropping grain
  • Balls of feed stuck in mouth
  • Bad breath and facial swelling


When should you start getting your horses teeth floated and how often?

A dental exam should be done before training at age 18-24 months of age. The exam and dental float at 18-24 month will be done to check for loose caps (baby teeth also known as deciduous teeth), wolf teeth, and place a bit seat in the mouth.

Horse should have a dental exam once a year. Older horses should be check for loose teeth during the dental exam. Horses with an overbite or underbite might need to be checked every six months.

Is balancing the mouth important?

Yes, a balanced mouth means that there is contact with the teeth for chewing. Premolars, molars, incisors, and the jaw of the horse all need to be working together.

Does your horse need to be sedated for the dental?

Yes, sedation is needed for dental floats.

The sedation will help the horse:

  • Relax
  • It allows a safer work environment for the veterinarian or lay dentist
  • More accurate dentistry


Are power tools dangerous?

No, if the person using the power tools is educated they are not dangerous. Power tools when used properly provides detailed and quality work.

In the State of Florida who can legally use power tools for dentistry?

  • Veterinarian
  • An equine lay dentist working with a veterinarian.

*It is illegal for an equine lay dentist to use power tools or to perform any extractions without a veterinarian present. It is also illegal for a lay dentist to give any IV sedation to a horse. IV sedation must be performed by a veterinarian.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact your County Extension Office to speak with a Livestock Agent


Posted: April 30, 2019

Category: 4-H & Youth, Livestock, UF/IFAS Extension, UF/IFAS Teaching
Tags: Dental, Equine, Horses, Livestock

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