Floating horses teeth
Posted by Frank Ise at 2012-05-10 08:04:48
One hears so much about the need to periodically float a horse's teeth, especially an older animal. What is it about a horse's teeth that require so much dental work, compared with other grazing animals. Is there any thing that one could add to their diet that would keep the teeth worn down a bit to avoid the need to manually grind them down. If they had more to actually chew, like corn or other fairly hard grain, would that help?
Response by Neal in Iowa at 2012-05-10 09:46:08
Other domestic livestock seldom are kept to the point that teeth are an issue.
The issue with horses is that the chewing motion is left to right or right to left and this action sharpens the edge of the teeth. So the inside of the cheeks and the tongue can get cut. The other issue is uneven wear. One tooth may wear faster, allowing the opposite tooth to erupt faster than its neigbors, resulting in a wave. The front incisors can erupt faster than the molars, causing the molars to have a gap, and not grind the forage fine enough. Add to that that the horse only has so much tooth to erupt, and it makes more sense to use a manual method to keep the mouth in shape over a feed additive that would "wear" teeth down. The manual method allows for correction, an additive (sand?) would be indiscriminate in the places it worked on, and would increase the sharpness of the tooth edge.
Response by Vince Mautino at 2012-05-10 10:16:46
Actually it is grazing naturally that helps the teeth,not hard grains.
However,the grinding motion of equine teeth during eating forms points on the outer edge of each side of the molars in an equine's mouth. As the points or sharp edges form,the grinding action of chewing is limited and thus the equine cannot chew as efficiently. Having the teeth floated "resurfaces those teeth so that efficient chewing can be restored.
It is not only older animals that require this denture care. All equines should be checked about every two years. Older animals might need their front teeth reshaped or floated also.
Although expensive( about $120 here) you will make most of that up by the fact that the animals make better use of it's food,thus requiring less food.
In addition to the food factor,these points can cause severe sores in the mouth of the equine,leading to unwanted behavior.
Dental care is just another expense of owning an equine, much like hoof care or deworming.
Response by grey at 2012-05-10 12:04:53
In feral or wild equine populations, animals with less-than perfect bite will make less effective use of their forage and in lean times they will starve. Thus, the population self-selects for good teeth.
In domesticated horses, imperfect occlusion is no longer the health risk that is was for wild horses. If an animal is a hard keeper due to bad teeth, we can push the feed to him, or manually touch up his teeth. We actually contribute to the need for a horse to have his teeth floated when we change his natural feeding habits. The grazing position - head down, tearing plants away from their roots, is when the horse's upper and lower jaws are properly aligned. If the horse is made to eat out of a raised manger or - worse - a hay net, his jaws do not align correctly. When the jaws do not align, the teeth do not wear evenly.
Domestic horses that are genetically gifted with good occlusion and kept on pasture can go a very long time - maybe even their whole lives - without needing dental work.
I had a horse break a tooth about three years ago. Not sure how she managed that. But the tooth was sensitive and in trying to avoid the sensitive tooth, she altered the way she was chewing her grass. This resulted in asymmetrical wear and nasty sharp edges on all of her teeth. After the damaged tooth was rasped down lower than the surrounding teeth so that it was not actively in use, it was not so painful for her to chew on that side. Eventually, the damaged tooth grew out flush with the others and the exposed nerve endings deadened and receeded. Now she chews symmetrically again and she hasn't needed floating since.
It isn't a lack of abrasive materials that causes the horse to have sharp edges on his teeth. It is breeding horses with poor occlusion and keeping them in an unnatural manner that are the main resons causes of dental problems in horses.
Response by Seth at 2012-05-11 09:17:39
I just got 2 of my horse's teeth floated last week. It cost $30 per horse. Actually the 13 year old horse I thought would need it was fine. The 10 year old horse that I didn't think would need it, had hooks and did need it.
Response by Julia at 2012-05-11 21:17:33
Has anyone learned to float their own horses teeth? I consider learning now and then but haven't gotten around to it. Here in CA it costs a lot more than $30 and I'm thinking the cost of the tools might pay for themselves quick.
Response by Dick Hutchinson at 2012-05-11 21:32:04
I get mine floated in the fall, that way they make better use of the hay over the cold winter.
Response by Vince Mautino at 2012-05-13 08:15:42
I have never seen a horse acatually chew hay with it's head up inthe manager.Usually they take a bite and then lower their head to chew.In addition, it's the tearing off and chewing of grasses that wear the teeth not the position of the head. A horse on short grass pasture that has to grub for it's food and more likely to pickup dirt/sand is more likeley to wear and have denture problems than one on healthy pasture. Both instances would have the horses head down when it is grazing.
I also have never heard that specific breeds or any horse being bred so that it's teeth are not right.
Feral horses do not live as long as domestic horses, and probably have a lot more dental problems than most are aware of.
In any case, todays domestic horse needs routine dental maintenace, whether it's done by the owner or a professional. Having it done by a professional makes it possible to inspect the entire mouth for sores and cuts caused bythe ridges/points on the teeth.
Response by Cheri at 2012-05-13 16:44:15
I have a small QH gelding that is approx 20. About 4 years ago he was losing a bunch of weight, took him to the Vet and discovered he had a broken tooth with a tooth shard still in his mouth which was removed. Since that time during routine dental exams he has lost 2 more teeth that were loose. This horse has what appears to have been some major injuries prior to us getting him. He's been pin fired over the croup, has a very bad old scar on his rib cage on one side and has some damage to a hoof wall on one hind foot. I have to wonder what affect any drugs he has had in the past may have long term affect on his health including his mouth/teeth. Or, is it genetics?
Response by Donna Cox at 2012-06-11 20:18:01
I have a 14 year old Morgan Gelding. He has 6 acres of green pasture grass to feed on, and grain morning and evening. The vet said that he needed to have his teeth floated before winter. If my horse was having obvious problems eating, I would understand the need, but he seems to be doing alright. A drop of grain here or there falls out, but for the most part he eats fine. I know the floating experience will be stressful for him, and I don't think he needs to go through that unless he was in obvious distress with his teeth.
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