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An essential guide to equine dental care *H&H Plus*

Dental check-ups should be a regular feature in your horse’s basic health care routine. Andrea Oakes looks at problems that can arise in the mouth

When it comes to equine dentistry, the days of a quick “once over” with a rusty rasp are long gone. Regular and detailed dental check-ups are now the norm for the well-cared for horse, allowing skilled practitioners to detect developing issues before they become real problems.

Since a comfortable mouth is a mainstay of good condition, behaviour and performance, it makes sense to start this routine care in a horse’s early years. When is it best to begin?

“Up until the age of five, a horse’s adult teeth are erupting and shedding their ‘caps’ – the remnants of the deciduous, or baby, teeth,” says Dr Kieran Rowley, an RCVS advanced veterinary practitioner in equine dentistry.

“We would generally recommend a first examination at around two to three years of age, provided that specific issues have not already become apparent.

“A check-up every six months is a good idea with the young horse, so that we can monitor the development of the mouth,” he adds. “We can also deal with any troublesome wolf teeth that may interfere with bitting and require extraction.”