Regular Dental Care Important in Horses Worldwide

Researchers assess the prevalence of malocclusions and dental diseases in privately owned horses in the Mazovia region of Poland.
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Regular dental exams can help prevent severe dental disease in your horse. | Stephanie Church/The Horse

Many research teams have quantified the prevalence of dental issues in horses worldwide. The results of a study done on privately-owned horses in the Mazovia region of Poland emphasize the importance of routine dental care regardless of where a horse lives.

Ninety-five percent of the 206 horses included in the study exhibited signs of malocclusions (tooth misalignment) and dental diseases on at least one tooth.

Researchers highlight that this rate is similar to that reported in Australia (94%) and Scotland (87%). In comparison, it’s slightly higher than the occurrence rate in the United States (80%) and the U.K. (ranges from 42-79%), based on previously published literature.

In this study, the authors also compared the prevalence of issues found on specific teeth. Their findings revealed:

  • 31% of the horses in the Mazovia region had issues on the incisor teeth—a lower rate than the entire Polish horse population, which previous studies established as 53%.
  • 62% of the horses had dental disorders of the cheek teeth and incisors, which is a lower rate than that seen in Canadian (70%) and Australian horses (87%).

“Given the variability in the reported prevalence in a single geographic location such as the U.K., other factors such as the dental examination protocol, equipment, and type of study design employed should be taken into consideration as the cause of variability in the incidence of malocclusions and dental disease,” the authors wrote.

In a piece of good news from the study, “across all age, gender, and breed groups, malocclusions of incisor, premolar, and molar teeth occurred with a higher prevalence than did dental diseases,” wrote the authors. In other words, fewer horses suffer from painful dental diseases than those with malocclusions.

With an annual oral exam, routine care can address common misalignments before they become more significant issues.

**“Malocclusions and Dental Diseases in Privately Owned Horses in the Mazovia Region of Poland” was published in Animals 2022.

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Written by:

Katie Navarra has worked as a freelance writer since 2001. A lifelong horse lover, she owns and enjoys competing a dun Quarter Horse mare.

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