Do Equine Dentals Need to be Complex?

How often in the equine world do you hear that LESS is MORE? But what about when it comes to Equine Dentistry?

In this recent article on Equine Dentistry from The Horse it talks about how the horse’s mouth is a complex functioning unit. This is true but it does not mean that a horse’s dental care needs to be complex. Keeping the mouth functioning well is extremely important. But dentals just need to facilitate the horse’s NATURAL method of maintaining oral health. Dentals can have Less Stress, Less Fear, Less (or no) Drugs, Less Recovery Time, Less Drama, Less Trauma, Less Fancy Tools. Less of everything except quality care.


The article states: “Thus, a detailed oral examination is an essential part of any horse’s annual checkup.” Most horses should have a dental exam every 6 months. Some mature horses can go yearly based on their past history. Some horses need to be checked every 3 months that are extremely sensitive or young and in training as their teeth can get sharp fast! Mouth comfort is so important to performance and some horses are more sensitive than others.

The article suggests that horses should be sedated for examination. It is an extremely rare horse that requires sedation for oral examination in my experience, whether with or without a speculum. Using sedation may make it easier for the veterinarian but it is not necessarily in the best interest of the horse. It is a short cut that many times is used in place of good horsemanship skills.

If you prefer horsemanship to sedation and less to more, then Contact us today to schedule a dental with Dr. Debra. See how your horse can have a pain-free mouth with a Low stress procedure.


A normally wearing “arcade” of healthy teeth enables the horse to ingest and begin processing nutrients appropriately. So maintaining that arcade is a prime focus of equine dental care–and a major reason for a thorough yearly exam.” Yes, maintaining the arcade is the prime focus and does not require power tools and heavy sedation but can be readily done through Horsemanship Dentistry. And a thorough oral exam is important as oral health is a key player in the overall health of a horse.


The article then goes on to say, “So if a horse has a major malocclusion or an abnormal wear problem, we don’t try to correct everything at once. Instead, we stage the correction: doing a little bit at a time, coming back every few months. Over a year or two the horse gets back to having a really good mouth, without undergoing any major readjustments.” I totally agree. If good dentistry is done to remove all sources of pain in the mouth it allows the tongue to re-sculpt the teeth. The horse will do the corrections on his own and in 2 years of regular care will be as if he had braces on! No power tools or heavy sedation required!


The article went on to create an awareness of advanced imaging techniques available but then stated usually radiographs are best, and only used on rare occasions. Usually a thorough palpation of the teeth and oral cavity give enough information.


When discussing advances in tooth extraction Dr. Delorey stated, “In many cases today, we can successfully treat a tooth that’s injured or diseased 0r, if we do have to extract it, the effort may not need to be so invasive.” This is very true – most of the time infection can be treated locally and/or with long-term antibiotics. Most teeth that need extraction are quite loose and easily removed with special instruments and minimal sedation and no invasive procedures. Dr. Delorey goes on to say in the article: “Yes, we can do fillings, and some root canals–but the fact that we can do something doesn’t necessarily mean we should do it. So far, we have very little data on how effective either procedure is, or even how useful.”

Why do something invasive that not only has Not been Proven helpful for the horse but has Potential for Harm?


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Overall the article, “Equine Dentistry Beyond the Basics”, had some good points about not over-floating, not using extreme measures that haven’t been proven helpful to the horse, getting a dental examination on a regular basis, smoothing sharp enamel points to create a comfortable mouth, using less invasive procedures, and having the dental arcades correct over time. Mostly it confirmed that ‘The Basics’ done well by a veterinarian experienced in dentistry is what is most important.


Horsemanship Dentistry from Healing Hands Equine blends that experience with horsemanship to create a safe, comfortable experience for your horse (or mule or donkey!).

Removing all sources of pain allows the horse to chew pain-free and over time correct the unevenness of their teeth. If the mouth is functioning well and pain-free, then the horse can process nutrients properly, heal minor oral issues, hold chiropractic adjustments better, respond to the bit appropriately, and perform better.

Contact us today to schedule a dental with Dr. Debra. See how your horse can have a healthy, comfortable mouth with a Low stress procedure. Most horses can be ridden immediately and some instantly have improved performance!

For a limited time, new dental patients will receive a free Body Balancing after their dental! Just mention this special when you contact us.


Non-sedated Horse After Dental – Hanging Out with Dr. Debra