For the initial physical examination and evaluation of the condition of the mouth, the horse is generally given a mild sedative. This allows the horse to relax so that the dentist is able to perform a thorough examination. It also provides a quiet, safe, stress-free atmosphere for the horse, the dentist and the handler.
**Please note, NOT all horses need to be sedated for an initial evaluation, estimate, or recheck. The situation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to suit the needs of the patient, the dentist and the owner.
What we're checking for: external swellings on head, face or lips, tumors, muscle wasting, asymmetry, facial paralysis, nasal discharge, sinus problems, odor coming from mouth or nose, drooling.
To evaluate: mucous membrane color, hydration status, age of horse
To check for: missing, loose, or fractured incisors, retained baby teeth, cap fragments, foreign bodies, mouth or lip ulceration, bit sores, status of canine teeth, presence or absence of wolf teeth.
Light Source - Headlamp or Flashlight
A bright light source is mandatory for a complete and thorough oral examination.
To observe: how the incisors meet
To check for: specific abnormalities such as overjet, parrot mouth, underjet, sow mouth
To evaluate: overlong incisors, offset incisors, slant bite, ventral or dorsal curvature
To determine: whether or not a bite realignment is necessary.
Since a horse cannot hold his mouth open on command, a full mouth speculum is used to perform a proper dental examination. It provides a good look at the back of the horse’s mouth without the danger of being accidentally bitten.
The speculum is used to hold the mouth open in order to examine structures in the back of the mouth including the canine teeth, wolf teeth, bars of mouth, premolars, molars, tongue, mucous membranes, hard palate and soft palate. This along with the implimentation of a bright light are the core of a proper dental exam.
To check for: retained deciduous premolars (baby teeth), sharp or broken canine teeth, wolf teeth, bit sores, tumors, trauma to the tongue, oral ulceration, foreign bodies, sharp enamel points, uneven molar wear, molar malocclusions such as hooks, ramps, wave mouth, step mouth, shear mouth, etc., broken premolars or molars