KBR Horse Health Information

Care AND Prevention

Equine Tooth Problems
& Dental Care

Part Two

Advanced Dental Correction


Some horses need manual float work before using the power tools. Others simply need to get used to the dentist in their mouths before the real noise begins.


A variety of rotary rasps and grinding stones and cutting blades are needed to effectively eliminate hooks, points and ramps, and to level the dental table. A good eye, skill and a steady hand on the part of the dentist is extremely critical.

Horses' teeth have much more crown than human or dog teeth so they don't feel the heat from grinding like we do.

That's smoke showing


Incisor work is equally important. Not only do they need to meet at the same time the molars meet, but they need to be free from waves and the angles in which they come together are important for a proper bite and to maintain proper pressures against the teeth when the horse bites down. Thus it's critical to correct the incisors so that they meet evenly and also that they close at exact same time as the newly corrected molars.

The image on the right shows a pretty good view of the waves and distortion in angles that can occur in the incisors over time as the horse's jaw starts to lose grinding mobility.


Upon completion of the work, a complete inspection is critical. This includes a visual inspection from all angles with the mouth open and closed as well as manipulation of the jaw by hand to feel for any resistance when grinding.

Here Ben uses a small flashlight to get a clear view of this horse's teeth.


There are a number of issues that the horse owner needs to be aware of after advanced dentistry is completed.

If the horse had sharp molar points, he most likely had sores and scabs on the insides of his cheeks where the points would snag. All the motion of the floats and grinders will knock these scabs loose. You can expect some bleeding and cheek tenderness until these injuries heal, however if you keep new points from forming, the horse should not cut himself up again.

The horse may experience discomfort or pain in his temporo-mandibular joint. His corrected bite will likely apply pressure to different points on the joint. Especially if he already has TMJ inflammation, he will likely experience some discomfort for up to a few days while the joint gets used to working once again in its "normal operating position." An anti-inflammatory such as Phenylbutezol (Bute) is often appropriate to improve the horse's comfort.

If the horse required tooth extractions, these are typically as a result of loose teeth and the tissues around those teeth are often septic. These horses may require antibiotics.

Your equine dentist and vet should be able to give you an idea as to what level of discomfort is normal, under what conditions you should ask for a return visit, and which medications (if any) you should administer to your horse.

Once your horse is back to "normal," you should expect the horse to be a easier keeper and some problems such as poor collection, poor flexion and fighting the bit should resolve themselves if they were the result of dental problems.

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KBR Horse Health Information, 1997 Lamm's Kickin' Back Ranch and Willis & Sharon Lamm. All rights reserved. Duplication of any of this material for commercial use is prohibited without express written permission. This prohibition is not intended to extend to personal non-commercial use, including sharing with others for safety and learning purposes, provided this copyright notice is attached.
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