The most advanced preventive care and dental treatments in the Grand Strand
What to expect during the exam
Each horse's exam will vary based on many factors including age and severity of dental disease, but most exams follow our routine below!
The most important part of dental visit is the examination. In order to properly visualize the entire mouth, we almost always sedate the horse. Sedation not only relaxes the jaw muscles (causing less strain), but also quiets the tongue, which can be extremely active and can easily hide significant problems in the mouth.
Modern dentistry has become much more than just floating teeth. "Floating" specifically refers only to the reduction of the sharp points at the edges of the molars and premolars, when many horses need more than just this procedure, especially as they age. Middle aged to senior horses often have overgrown teeth (hooks, ramps, wave mouth) that need to be gradually reduced to return their mouth to as normal a state as possible. Some of these overgrown teeth need to be gradually reduced over multiple visits to prevent damage to the live portion of the tooth, although many can be corrected in one visit. Prevention is key, and the earlier these issues are caught, the easier they are to fix!
We perform prophylactic cleaning on the incisors (and any present canines) of all of our patients. Clean teeth are not just for aesthetics! Accumulation of tartar and feed packed between the teeth can cause significant pain. This horse had severe tartar (at gum line of upper teeth) and feed packed between the teeth. In the lower image, you can see the receding gum between the two lower, center incisors. With continued attention to keeping this space free of food, the gum will begin to return to a healthier appearance and location between the teeth!
There are various reasons why a tooth might need to be extracted. Young horses may retain their baby teeth for an excessive period of time and may need to be removed, or may have congenitally malformed teeth that need to be removed to allow the normal teeth to erupt normally. Older horses may have fractured or loose teeth that need to be removed. Abscesses at the root of a tooth generally require removal to resolve the problem. A majority of extractions can be completed with the horse standing with sedation and localized anesthesia.
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