At Stilwell Animal Hospital and Equine Center, P.A. we strongly advocate for proper dental health in horses. Horses have hypsodont teeth, which means that their teeth continuously grow throughout their lives and need regular veterinary care to keep their teeth healthy. The top jaw of a horse is wider than the bottom jaw, which causes abnormal wear of the teeth and sharp “points” to be produced. Horses can also develop “hooks” on the front and back of the mouth from abnormal wear, which may also need to be addressed. We regularly “float” teeth to wear down hooks and points to maintain a healthy mouth and prevent oral ulcers. If hooks and points are too long, they can rub against the cheek or tongue and cause ulcers, as well as impede normal chewing motions. Some signs that your horse may need a float are: dropping feed while eating, difficulty chewing, head shaking, reluctance to bridling or abnormally sensitive to the bit. Younger horses have faster growing teeth than older horses, so it is incredibly important to have regular oral examinations to determine what your horse’s floating schedule should look like. Some horses require yearly floating to prevent hooks and points from causing problems, while others require floating less frequently. We strongly recommend oral examinations and floating your horse’s teeth before problems arise.
We offer two different options for equine floating here at Stilwell Animal Hospital and Equine Center, P.A. The first option is called hand floating. This is where the veterinarian uses handheld tools of various shapes and sizes to wear down the hooks and points your horse has. Hand floating may or may not require the use of sedation depending on the individual horse. The other option is called a power float. Just like the name implies, the power float uses a power drill with floating attachments to wear down hooks and points quickly. This option wears down the teeth with less manual effort on the veterinarian and is efficient in some of the more difficult mouths. Power floating does require use of a speculum and sedation, and some horses are more anxious from the sounds and vibrations of the power equipment. Whether or not to hand float or power float is decided based on the individual horse’s oral health needs.
Another important dental service we offer at Stilwell Animal Hospital and Equine Center, P.A. is the removal of wolf teeth. It is recommended to get a horse’s wolf teeth removed before using a bit in the mouth, and is often done at the time of castration in males. Wolf teeth are premolars that due to their location can interfere with the bit in riding horses, and can cause horses pain or discomfort if not removed. Not all horses have wolf teeth, and an oral examination by a veterinarian can determine their presence and need for removal. If any wolf teeth are present at the time of your horse’s first float, we strongly recommend removal of the wolf teeth at that time under sedation.