Do I Need a Dental Exam For My Horse?

An owner’s Morgan mare might have something wrong with her teeth. What should she expect from an equine dental examination? A veterinarian with an interest in equine dentistry weighs in.

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do i need a dental exam for my horse
It's wise to use a veterinarian that uses a full-mouth speculum for dental exams, which allows him or her to visualize and palpate all aspects of the horse's cheek teeth. | Photo: Stephanie L. Church/The Horse
Q.I have a Morgan mare who, I think, might have something wrong with her teeth. What should I expect from a dental examination for my horse?

—Gail, via e-mail

A.Dental examinations can vary from a superficial examination to identify major abnormalities only to a detailed examination that hopefully will reveal the smallest dental problem. The age and use of the horse will influence the type of examination performed.

Some practitioners’ exams consist of flushing the mouth to remove feed and hay, a visual examination, and possibly a manual examination. This type of examination might identify many problems, especially if the horse is amenable. However, it has the potential to miss problems, especially at the back of the mouth

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Written by:

W. Leon Scrutchfield, DVM, is a Professor Emeritus at Texas A&M University with special interests in equine field service and dentistry.

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