Sharp enamel points will naturally develop over time as the horse’s teeth erupt. These sharp cusps will cause ulcers, soreness and lacerations to the side of their cheeks and tongue if the horse does not receive regular routine dental treatment. This can cause them to struggle with eating and can also cause poor performance problems when ridden.
If their teeth are routinely treated once a year or every 6 months (depending on how often your EDT recommends) this should stop the sharp enamel points from lacerating their cheeks/tongue keeping them comfortable for both ridden work and effective mastication.
Focal overgrowths (otherwise known as Hooks & Ramps) develop due to misalignment of the molar arcades. Sometimes these can be secondary to an extracted or missing tooth as the opposing tooth has nothing to grind against.
These overgrowths restrict the movement of the jaw causing difficulty eating and can also be painful. These focal overgrowths will be picked up and managed on a routine dental check, more regular checks may be necessary to keep further reducing the overgrowth depending on how severity of the problem.
Wolf teeth sit just in front of the first molar. They come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Like our wisdom teeth, some horses never get wolf teeth. They are present from 6 months old if the do have them. Quite often if they have had them they are extracted before they start their ridden career so we never know if they had them or not.
There are lots of factors to consider when thinking of extracting wolf teeth. Sometimes they sit there and never cause a problem but sometimes they get extracted to prevent discomfort when ridden.
Equine Dental Technician’s can extract non displaced, erupted wolf teeth however all horses must be sedated by the vet for extraction to take place.
Excessive Transverse Ridges (ETR)
Each molar should naturally have two ridges to allow the horse to chew its food, however sometimes these ridges become excessive.
ETR needs reducing as it can effect the movement of the mandible and can cause stress to the TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint) and other masticatory muscles. It can also have an effect when the horse is ridden as it can prevent the natural sliding forward of the mandible.
If diastemas are opposing ETR then it’s very important to reduce it as it pushes food into the gaps even more.
Caries is when the tooth becomes decayed, it can happen to any tooth and happens for a number of different reasons. It can affect both the inner and outer parts of the tooth and is graded depending on the severity. If caries is caught quickly then fillings could be an option to prevent the tooth from fracturing in the years to come. Caries can be a primary cause of a tooth root infection leading to secondary sinusitis depending which teeth are affected it also makes the tooth more likely to fracture if left untreated. It doesn’t always cause a problem but needs to be noted and monitored.
A diastema is a gap between two adjacent teeth. The food usually then packs into the gap which can become stuck depending on the severity, the food will start to rot which then leads to a number of different problems such as, decay, gingival recession, and periodontal disease. This can be extremely painful and often will lead to horses quidding or stop eating at all. You can often smell it.
Reducing opposing ETR, balancing the mouth and flushing the gaps out regularly can sometimes be all it takes to keep diastemas from becoming painful. However, in more severe cases treatment may include, widening the gap to allow the food to flow in and out again more freely, bridging the gaps with packing material or in sever cases extraction of one of the adjacent teeth.
Younger horses quite often get sever diastemas when their teeth are changing and caps are shedding, depending on what position the roots are in they do occasionally rectify themselves with time. Older horses can be prone to developmental diastemas as the angle of the teeth change.
Most the time incisors don't need any intervention. Their are a number of problems that can occur in the incisors. This Donkey has no incisors at all but with the correct dental care on his molars and the correct feed he manages very well indeed as you can tell from this picture.
Here are a few of the most common dental problems.