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Equine Dentistry

Regular dental examinations are essential for the well being of your horse, pony or donkey.

Dental examinations and treatment can improve performance by ensuring the mouth, cheeks and tongue are pain free, and also often reduce feed bills by allowing the teeth to grind together properly.


In addition, earlier detection of underlying disease may be possible.


Routine dental work including power work is also available under our protective healthcare visits.

Learn More About Our Equine Dentistry Services

  • Corrective Dentistry For Horses
  • vet-services-dental-2 Dental Imaging
  • Dental Surgery
  • Diastemata and Periodontal Disease

Corrective Dentistry For Horses

In some cases your horse may require more extensive dental work.

This may be necessary if teeth have developed excessive overgrowths, for example if teeth are missing or positioned incorrectly, if there is poor natural conformation of the mouth, or if regular dental care has not been provided previously.

Horse having his teeth checked

In these cases motorised equipment is always used, as it allows overgrowths to be reduced much more quickly than with manual instruments, thus minimising the stress to the horse and decreasing the time required for the mouth to be held open.

Sedation is always necessary when motorised tools are being used as there is far more chance of causing damage to the teeth or soft tissue structures should the horse move his head. Overgrown teeth can often be fully reduced in one treatment, however in some cases 2 or more treatments 3 to 6 months apart may be necessary to avoid risk of pulp exposure and extreme damage to the teeth.

We own both mains operated and battery operated power tool units, and can therefore provide corrective dental work both at the clinic and at your yard or field.

vet-services-dental-2 Dental Imaging

Before a horse’s dental problems can be treated, they must be correctly diagnosed.

Some painful, serious dental conditions are difficult to diagnose during routine dental examinations and if your horse has ongoing problems, further diagnostic imaging is indicated.

Dental Imaging Facilities

Our excellent dental imaging facilities ensure accurate diagnosis and we are constantly updating our equipment and expertise in order to offer the best options for treatment of dental disease on site.

We offer a range of dental diagnostics, from free routine dental checks at the time of routine vaccination, to oral endoscopy, dental radiography and sinoscopy.

Dental check going on

Portable Dental Endoscope

The portable dental endoscope allows real-time images of every part of your horse’s mouth to be viewed on screen during the examination and images can be archived for future reference.

This unit is particularly valuable in the diagnosis of valve diastemata, dental caries and fractured teeth.

These lesions can result in tooth root infection, gum disease and recession and periodontal disease that if untreated can result in sinusitis or infection in the jaw bone. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent future problems.

Digital Radiography Machine

Our digital radiography machine produces quality images to aid accurate diagnosis of dental conditions. It is used most often for assessment of diastemata, fractures of teeth and bone, and assessment of potentially infected tooth roots and sinuses.

Sinoscopy involves direct imaging of the inside of the sinuses (air filled structures of the head) by inserting a flexible endoscopic camera through a small hole drilled through the skull.

This is usually performed under standing sedation at the clinic, and can be very useful when diagnosing conditions such as sinusitis. It can also enable imaging of the roots of the upper cheek teeth, thus aiding diagnosis of tooth root infections.

In addition, sinuses can be flushed out if they are filled with purulent material, which can relieve symptoms and allow more accurate radiographic images to be obtained.

Dental Surgery

Our excellent dental imaging facilities ensure accurate diagnosis and we are constantly updating our equipment and expertise in order to offer the best options for treatment of dental disease on site.

Fractured or infected teeth may necessitate extraction and where possible we remove diseased teeth through the mouth, under standing sedation and local nerve blocks.

This is a time consuming, delicate procedure but carries a reduced risk of post-operative complications compared to other extraction techniques and avoids the risks associated with general anaesthesia.

When oral extraction is not possible, we have the facilities and access to experts in the field, who can perform extraction via a surgical approach and both endoscopic and radiographic imaging are used to ensure all dental tissues are removed, reducing the risk of complications. The patient remains at the practice for the surgery and post-operative care, reducing travelling and making visiting easier.

Diastemata and Periodontal Disease

Diastemata is the name given to gaps that can form between the teeth.

In some cases these gaps trap food, causing gum disease and severe pain.

If left untreated then the gum disease can spread, and cause infection of the periodontal structures that attach the tooth to the gum and alveolar bone; in some cases infection of the bone or sinuses may also occur.

diastemata periodontal equine

Diagnosis of Diastemata & Periodontal Disease

Provisional diagnosis can be made by a combination of clinical signs such as quidding (dropping balls of partly chewed food from the mouth), weight loss or halitosis (smelly breath), and careful palpation of the teeth especially at gum level. Use of a dental mirror and bright light, or our dental endoscope will give further information pertaining to the location of the diastemata and extent of gum disease.

Radiographs are often employed in order to assess the bony structures of the head and any tooth root involvement, and to give an indication of whether the condition is likely to get better with time. This is especially important in younger horses.

Treatment of Periodontal Disease

Our Periodontal Unit allows us to treat and manage this serious condition. The food and diseased tissue can be removed using pressuring water and air abrasion and where necessary gaps can be widened to prevent food becoming trapped. This is often performed in combination with dental correction as overgrowths are often seen with this sort of dental disease. Pockets in the gum can then be filled with antibiotic and impression material to allow healing to occur. In some cases dental extraction may be indicated, for example if the affected teeth are loose or there is evidence of tooth root infection.

The specialised periodontal unit can also be used to prepare fractured incisor teeth for filling. Filling the exposed pulp cavity prevents infection getting into the tooth root and killing the tooth.

Why use your equine vet for dental work

All veterinary surgeons are fully qualified to perform all dental work.  At Scarsdale Equine many of our vets have also undergone further training in routine and advanced dental procedures so you can be sure your horse is getting the best possible up-to-date dental care.

Many horses resent dental work being performed. Veterinary surgeons can administer sedation to enable safe and thorough examination and treatment of the mouth and teeth. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to perform high quality dentistry in a horse that is constantly moving his head

Any health concerns and preventative health measures, such as dietary modification to aid management of dental conditions,  can often be discussed whilst dental work is being performed

Veterinary Surgeons can administer local anaesthetic, pain relief and antibiotics if necessary

At Scarsdale Equine we have access to equipment such as digital radiography, dental endoscopy and sinoscopy to aid our diagnosis in more complicated cases.  In addition we are able to perform dental surgery, such as extractions, at our clinic

Dental Requirements For Horses

Equine teeth are unique in several respects, which mean their dental requirements differ from those of other species. Here are some interesting points to consider:

Adult Teeth

Horses form their adult teeth at a young age; these teeth are then stored within the sinuses (air filled spaces) and bones of the head, and erupt into the mouth continuously throughout life. This eruption process is fastest in young horses, and slows down with increasing age. As it is not possible for the horse to ‘grow’ any additional tooth once they have developed, their teeth will eventually wear out. The age that this occurs depends on factors including diet and dental management throughout life.

Wearing Teeth Naturally

In the wild, horses graze a wide variety of different forages for around 16 hours a day, which helps them to wear down their teeth naturally. Modern management practices often involve stabling horses for long periods of time, restricting access to forage and feeding large quantities of easily digested concentrate feed that requires little grinding; as a result of this domestic horses often require their teeth to be rasped (or filed) to allow them to grind food properly and increase comfort.

Avoiding Mouth Trauma

Horses dental arcades are anisognathic, meaning that the upper jaws are set further apart than the lower arcades. Therefore as the teeth erupt sharp enamel points form on the outside (buccal) of the upper teeth, and inside (lingual) aspect of the lower teeth, which if left untreated can cause trauma to the cheeks and tongue respectively.

A further point to consider is that the mouth is very long and narrow, and there is often little space between the cheeks and the teeth especially at the back of the mouth. This means that even slightly sharp teeth in this area can cause considerable discomfort.

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