Recognizing Dental Problems

Horses with dental ailments may show obvious signs of problems, such as pain or irritation, or they may show no noticeable signs at all. That is due to the fact that some horses simply adapt to their discomfort. For this reason, periodic dental examinations are essential to maintain your horse’s overall health.

Possible indicators of dental problems include:

  • Loss of feed from mouth while eating, difficulty with chewing, or excessive salivation
  • Loss of body condition
  • Large or undigested feed particles (long stems or whole grain) in manure
  • Head tilting or tossing, bit chewing, tongue lolling, fighting the bit, or resisting bridling
  • Poor performance, such as lugging on the bridle, failing to turn or stop, even bucking
  • Foul odor from mouth or nostrils, or traces of blood from the mouth
  • Nasal discharge or swelling of the face, jaw, or mouth tissues

Oral exams should be an integral part of your horse’s annual physical examination by your veterinarian. Every dental exam provides the opportunity to perform routine preventative dental maintenance. The end result is a healthier, more comfortable and happy horse.