The oral examination is one of the most important parts of equine dentistry. In order to provide the best dental care for your horse, the veterinarians at RMEC complete an oral exam and record all the abnormalities observed. First a history is gathered, followed by an extra oral examination. After your horse is sedated, oral range of motion is assessed. Then a speculum is placed in your horse’s mouth and the veterinarian visually examines the mouth, and palpates the structures in the mouth with their hand and/or dental instruments. From here your veterinarian will decide what needs to be addressed in the oral adjustment and if some abnormalities may require more than one visit to correct. Once the current treatments are completed the speculum is removed and the patient is withheld from feed until he/she is completely awake.
Oral Adjustment (aka “Dental Float”)
An oral adjustment (OA) is bringing the dentition into the best functional condition as possible. This may be as simple as removing the sharp enamel points from the cheek teeth (molars and premolars) or it could involve adjusting/correcting things like waves, stepped teeth, wedge teeth, shear mouths, diagonals, smiles, frowns etc. (primarily type I malocclusions). It is important not to remove too much dental material from a tooth at one time and treatment plans will often need to be executed over a period of time to prevent patient injury.
Information on malocclusions
Malocclusions are any deviation from normal occlusion. A tooth is, or multiple teeth are not, in the correct place, or an abnormality preventing the jaw from closing in the correct position or chewing in the normal pattern is present. Malocclusions can originate from the teeth themselves or from asymmetry or an abnormality of the bones associated with the dentition. If identified early, these abnormalities can be addressed and improved to achieve the most functional occlusion possible for the patient. Normal mastication can be achieved with routine oral adjustments. When identified late, treatment often requires a more involved and higher risk approach and may require more frequent oral adjustments. Some common abnormalities identified in equids that can cause malocclusions include hooks, ramps, steps, excessive transverse ridges, wave mouth, and diagonal bites.
Digital Radiography ("X-ray") is a key diagnostic tool in identification and treatment planning of dental disease, especially when it comes to the early stages of a disease process. Imaging helps us to evaluate the affected and surrounding structures and tailor the best possible treatment plan for your horse.
While our goal is to keep your horses’ teeth healthy and in their mouth, sometimes the best way to help your horse and treat their dental disease is to extract the teeth involved. RMEC has the equipment necessary to perform quality dental extractions. If a procedure is outside of our capabilities, we will discuss referral options. Dental extractions at RMEC are completed with an intraoral approach in the standing, sedated horse. This decreases the risk to your horse and shortens healing times. We have a set of stocks in our clinic to facilitate these procedures.