Dentistry and Dental Surgery

With Alpine Equine's commitment to the wellness and general health of your horse, Dr Maker stresses the importance of dental care for every horse annually.  We honor National Equine Dental Care month every February offering substantial savings on dental services.  Dr Maker developed and patented the Alpine Float, a safe motorized dental device in 2008 and is committed to showing you the benefits of a sedated oral exam and the dental needs of your horse. 

Click here to watch an Equine Oral Exam

Appropriate and thorough dental care is an aspect of horse management that is often overlooked.  Unlike human teeth, horses’ teeth have an eruption rate of 2 to 4 mm per year depending on their age. The teeth should wear in correspondence to yearly eruption rate. Malocclusions, or improper position of the teeth, can lead to many health issues and behavioral problems. 

When your horse has a problem affecting their performance give us a call.  As a general equine practitioner focused on the horse, we take a whole body approach. An understanding of all body systems and performance disciplines is necessary given some of the vague and indirect symptoms horse owners experience.  Some problems can present with a multitude of symptoms pointing to a lameness, chiropractic, saddle or bit fit problem.  Symptoms may point to the involvement  of the gastrointestinal system or even anxiety. Dental disease is also in this list of possibilities.  Alpine Equine’s ability to comprehensively examine your horse and differentiate these body systems is our focus.    

Some horses show obvious signs of dental disease while others show no noticeable signs yet have significant pathology.  Waiting too long for treatment may increase the treatment needed or may even make remedy impossible, resulting in tooth loss.

A list of clinical signs associated with dental problems includes:

·        loss of feed from mouth while eating

·        difficulty chewing or excess salivation

·        loss of body condition

·        large, undigested food particles in manure

·        head tilting or tossing, bit chewing, tongue rolling

·        fighting the bit or resisting the bridle

·        bucking or failing to stop or turn

·        foul odor from mouth or nostrils

·        traces of blood in mouth

·        nasal discharge or facial swelling

Horse owners should remember the value of a regular dental checkups. Checking for uneven teeth in the spring and fall between the ages of 2 ½ and 5 years of age and thereafter annually is a sound practice. This is often done with spring and fall vaccinations.

To understand why dentistry is so important one needs to understand their unique anatomy.  Horses grind feed with side-to-side and an up-and-down chewing. As a result of the horse’s lower jaw being narrower than its upper jaw and grinding motion during chewing, sharp points tend to form along the edges even in normal horses. Points form on the cheek side of the upper jaw and the tongue side of the lower jaw. On the upper teeth, the outside edge toward the jaw is the unused edge. On the bottom teeth, the inside edge toward the tongue will be unused. This uneven grinding surface causes an inefficiency in grinding feed. Over time, unused sharp edges can elongate and cause malocclusion, irritation and lacerations to the gums. These cuts in the cheeks and gums (sores and ulcers) often have negative effects on performance while riding. 

Proper teeth care benefits the horse, owner, and trainer. A well functioning mouth allows better utilization of feed while chewing, thereby reducing feed expenses.  This can help maintain better condition and general health, help prevent colic and esophageal choke and can greatly improve responsiveness to the bit. Painful mouth issues can significantly impair the training process. 

We offer digital radiography to evaluate the skull, sinuses and teeth in appropriate cases.  We perform oral surgery and extractions in the field and hospital depending on the case.  We offer transportation when hospitalized care is needed.  And when consultation and specialized dental care is required based on oral exam findings, a referral to Dr. Louise Marron a Diplomate of the American College of veterinary dentists is facilitated.  Please see her video below.

Click Here to watch Dr Marron's Equine Dental Health Video.

Our goal with regular teeth care is to maintain the symmetry and balance of the arcade and to allow free chewing motion and comfort. A dental exam also provides the opportunity to perform other wellness care procedures and helps avoid having relatively minor problems become serious in the future.  Simply put, a healthy horse, chewing effectively and comfortably for its entire lifetime.  

Give us a call and we can get started, ensuring your horse performs at its best and receives the medical, surgical and dental care when it is necessary.


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