Why Does My Horse Need Routine Dental Care?
Wild horses don’t get regular dental care so why should the horse in your barn have their teeth professionally evaluated on a regular basis?
All horses have a finite tooth structure that erupts as they age. (Horses' teeth don't "grow", they erupt.) They chew in a figure-eight motion and their upper jaw overlaps their lower jaw resulting in their teeth wearing unevenly; the top molars become longer and sharp on the outside edge while the lower molars become longer and sharp on the inside edge. This uneven wearing prohibits natural jaw motion if the chewing surfaces of teeth are not properly maintained at the proper angles.
When chewing becomes uncomfortable for wild horses, they chew on rocks and other hard objects to wear down the surfaces of their teeth as best they can. Wild horses forage for their food while we feed soft forage and grains to domesticated horses. They are not asked to carry a bit in their mouths or a rider on their backs and they also have a much lower life expectancy than domesticated horses.
A domesticated horse's lifestyle contributes to their longer life expectancy but also requires more physical maintenance, especially related to dental care. Domesticated horses ingest softer feed than their wild counterparts and their owners typically have performance expectations of them. They also may not shed caps as easily as their wild counterparts which can contribute to issues with permanent tooth eruption. Regular dental maintenance can help prevent problems before they begin so that a horse can process its feed more efficiently, which contributes to its overall health and life span. Poor dental health contributes to conditions like colic, so prevention of dental issues saves owners money over time, not only related to feed bills, but also in terms of veterinary bills as well.