What to expect at an equine dental appointment

We’re a mobile equine dental and veterinary practice, so we arrive at your place with everything we’ll need to treat your horse, including our own water and power.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

At the time of your appointment, we need you or someone who is able to handle your horse on your behalf, to be present throughout the appointment.

We need a safe, clear, level place to park our vehicle and trailer/portable crush. If you’ve got shade for us in the summer or shelter for us in the winter, those are always greatly appreciated, but not essential.

We also ask that you remove any loose horses from the area/paddock that we’ll be working in, to ensure everyone’s safety.

APPOINTMENT FORMAT

You’ll be asked to lead your horse towards the crush then stand and wait while we check their vital signs, estimate their weight and get their medical history from you.

While they’re standing calmly, the sedation will be administered and allowed to take effect. While the horse is still relatively alert, you’ll be assisted to walk them into the crush.

Once inside, the front and rear doors of the crush will be closed behind and in front of the horse, and a metal gag halter put on. This keeps the horse’s mouth open during the exam without causing them any discomfort.

APPOINTMENT LENGTH

A routine dental exam takes around an hour from start to finish but could be longer or shorter depending on what needs to be done.

AFTER THE APPOINTMENT

Payment is expected by EFTPOS or credit card at the time of the appointment and an electronic dental chart and invoice will be emailed to you for your records.

For you convenience, an automated reminder will be emailed to you when it’s time to book your horse in for their next checkup.

Recommended dental exam schedule

Foals:

  • Soon after birth to assess for any congenital problems that may not be visible from the exterior.
  • After all deciduous (baby teeth) have erupted, which happens at around 9-12months of age.

1-6yrs old:

  • Routine exams at 6 monthly intervals.
  • Removal of wolf teeth and caps as necessary.

6-17yrs old:

  • Yearly exams, unless problems have occurred.
  • 6-9-monthly exams for performance horses.

17 years+ (Senior):

  • Routine exams at 6-monthly intervals.
  • Senior horses tend to develop dental conditions which will affect attrition, these need to be managed on a more regular basis.

When your horse may need to see the dentist

One or more of the following signs could indicate that it’s time to get your horse’s teeth checked: 

  1. Weight loss
  2. Head tossing
  3. Dropping feed
  4. Long stems of hay in faeces
  5. Decreased appetite
  6. Head shy
  7. Poor performance
  8. Inability to collect or stay collected
  9. Opening mouth while carrying a bit
  10. Unwillingness to turn to one side or another

Why we sedate horses

Sedation is necessary if a horse is being treated using dental power tools.

Sedation ensures that the horse remains calm and still throughout the procedure, allowing the dentist to work safely and accurately while limiting stress on the horse.

In Australia, only registered vets are legally allowed to prescribe the drugs used in sedation.

As a registered vet, Tom is equipped to sedate horses for both routine and surgical procedures.

Why we use power tools

The main advantage of power floating over traditional hand rasping is that it’s a more efficient procedure with greater precision.

READ MORE from The Australian Veterinary Association

 

What you should do after your horse’s dental appointment

After a dental exam or procedure requiring sedation, the following general rules apply.

  • If they have access to food, horses under the effects of sedation often try and take large mouthfuls without chewing properly. This can lead to oesophageal choke which may require veterinary assistance. Don’t offer your horse hay or hard feed until the effects of the sedation have worn off, but a pick in the paddock is fine.
  • Ensure the horse has access to shelter/shade and water.
  • Ensure the horse isn’t in a yard or paddock with other horses who may cause them harm while they’re still sleepy.
  • Allow the horse to wake fully before riding, transporting or otherwise handling them.