Equine Dentistry: Hooks

May 25th, 2013 by David Warren

These photos are of a 27 year old Arabian gelding.  The hook on his upper right first cheek tooth is long and has a very sharp point.  These hooks not only interfere with chewing but also contribute to performance issues such as head tossing and not turning or stopping as they should.  Horses with hooks on their upper first cheek teeth also have similar hooks on their lower last cheek teeth in the very back of their mouth (not visible in these photos).

The photo below is after floating and equilibration has been completed.  Note that the cheek tooth that had the larger hook is still longer than it should be.  Aggressive floating  can result in opening the pulp of the tooth and cause sensitivity, infection, or permanent damage.  For that reason we reduce excessively long teeth in stages.  In 4-6 months we can safely shorten this tooth to its proper length and have this guy’s teeth back to normal.

David Warren, D.V.M.

Equine Dentistry: Large ulcer and fractured cheek tooth

May 15th, 2013 by David Warren

This photo is of a 29 year old QH gelding.  He was having trouble chewing and was loosing weight.  That is one of the largest cheek ulcers I have seen.  And the fractured tooth had to be painful as well.  We removed the loose part of the fractured tooth and smoothed-off the sharp enamel points.  This guy will be able to chew much better and start gaining weight in a month or so.

David Warren, D.V.M.

Equine Dentistry: Hooks

May 7th, 2013 by David Warren

These photos are of an 11 year old Arabian cross gelding.  As you can see, he has a very large hook on the first upper left cheek tooth.  It is so  large that it contacts  his lower jaw when he closes his mouth.  This due to a conformation issue in which the upper rows of cheek teeth are positioned slightly more forward than the lower cheek teeth.  As a result, part of the first upper and last lower cheek teeth do not have opposite tooth to wear against and hooks gradually form.

In the “After” photo you can see the hook was removed and he will feel much better now!

David Warren, D.V.M.

Checking mares at Wrights Quarter Horses

May 6th, 2013 by David Warren

Patti Jo Wright and I pregnancy checking mares at Wright’s Quarter Horses near Kenedy, TX. If you aint wearin pink, you aint doin it right!!! She and Don raise the best Blue Valentine and Joe Hancock horses around. Visit their website at https://bluevalentineheadquarters.com/

Equine Dentistry: Cheek laceration.

May 3rd, 2013 by David Warren

This photo is of a 25 year old gelding that was having difficulty chewing his feed.  You can see that he has a number of dental issues but the most obvious is a deep laceration  in his cheek caused by a sharp enamel point.  Also, many of the cheek teeth are wore to the gum line making it difficult to chew hay and other coarse feeds.   And there were some fragmented molars that required extraction.

You just never know what you will find until you look!!

David Warren, D.V.M.

Interesting Case: Retained baby incisors.

April 8th, 2013 by David Warren

     This photo is of a 6 year old Quarter Horse gelding that has 4 retained baby incisors.  As the adult incisors erupted, they were “pushed back” by the retained baby teeth and are now out of alignment.  The baby teeth should have been completely shed by 4.5 years of age to allow the adult teeth to grow into their proper locations.

     Treatment of this condition is to extract the retained baby teeth and if they are removed early enough, the adults will erupt normally.  In this case, since the horse’s adult incisors are fully matured, there will be some degree of misalignment for the rest of his life.  More frequent dental procedures will be needed to maintain normal  function.

     Between the ages of 2.5 – 4.5 years, 24 baby teeth are shed and replaced by 24 adult teeth.  These are also the ages that we are training our horses and expect them to perform at futurities, etc.  Retained baby teeth can cause discomfort both while eating and when a bit is in their mouth.  Dental exams should be performed every 6 months in younger horses to address abnormalities that can affect chewing, performance, and dental conformation.

David Warren, D.V.M.

Join us at the ACTHA ride in Aransas Pass on 3/9/13.

February 26th, 2013 by David Warren

Join Carol, Newt, and I on March 9 at the ACTHA ride being held at the Coquat Ranch near Aransas Pass, Texas.

See ride details at: https://www.actha.us/ride/6391/view

Visit the Coquat Ranch website at: https://www.coquatranch.com/

Carol and Newt all dressed up and ready to ride!

Texas Trail Challenge

February 19th, 2013 by David Warren

I had a great time visiting with the Texas Trail Challenge competitors last weekend at Parrie Haynes Ranch near Killeen.  Thanks to all of those who attended my equine dentistry presentation.

If you didn’t make it and are curious, visit their website at: www.texastrailchallenge.com

Miniatures need dentistry too!!

February 12th, 2013 by David Warren

Miniature horses, donkeys, and mules seem to have more problems with their teeth than standard breeds of horses.   They have the same size and number of teeth as large breeds.  All those regular size teeth “crowded” into a compact size head make minis more susceptible to retained baby teeth, malocclusion, and periodontal disease.  Miniatures are also more prone to congenital dental problems such as parrot mouth and under bites.

Dentistry in these little guys can be challenging at times.  Since there is less space to work in the back of their mouth, special tools are necessary to reach their back cheek teeth.  In the photo above I am using a small, thin oscillating dental rasp that is ideal for hard to reach teeth in this mini donkeys’ mouth.

So don’t overlook your miniature friends when the time for dental maintenance rolls around.

Equine Dentistry: Cheek Ulcers

December 26th, 2012 by David Warren

Ulcerations and abrasions of the cheek are commonly found in healthy horses of all ages.  These lesions range from small shallow superficial “scrapes” on the surface of the cheek to deep ulcers that become infected.  The presence these ulcers result in a variety of symptoms including improper mastication, oral infections, and decreased athletic performance.   Cheek ulcerations are found in all ages and breeds of horses but are more common in horses less than 10 years of age.

Sharp enamel points on the cheek teeth are the culprit.  These points are located on the outside (cheek side) surface of the upper cheek teeth and the inside (tongue side) of the lower cheek teeth.  They vary in size from small points only a few millimeters in length to larger hook like structures that are capable of digging into surrounding soft tissues.

The sharp enamel points in the above photo are average in size.  They are located on the last two upper cheek teeth and are very sharp.  An ulcer has formed due to one of the enamel points cutting into the cheek during the chewing process.  Once the enamel point is removed during the dental float, the ulcer will heal in 5-7 days.

This is a photo of a 29 year old roping horse having difficulty chewing and was losing weight.  The large deep ulcer in the cheek is due to the long enamel point on the first cheek tooth.  There is another quarter size ulcer in the back top part of the mouth near the soft palate.  These ulcers are very painful, making it difficult to chew grass and hay.

The primary goal of equine dentistry is to reduce pain – pain that interferes with mastication and performance.  As you can see, ulceration of the cheeks and surrounding soft tissue must be addressed during dental floating and equilibration.  The good news is that once the enamel points are removed, these ulcers will heal and the source of pain resolved.

David Warren, D.V.M.