Teeth Tips

Making the 'right decision'... for your horse when it comes to their teeth

Most people cannot see inside their horse's mouths, so you need to be aware of the signs that alert us of dental treatment being required.  It is better to prevent dental problems from occurring than to try and repair them after they have occurred.  All horses should have their teeth checked at least once a year.

If you are experiencing any of the following situations with your horse it may be time to have their teeth checked. 

  • Mouthing the bit
  • Tilting head
  • Taking large mouthfuls of food
  • Rubbing their face
  • Goes with head high
  • Head flicking
  • Loss of top line
  • Pot or distended stomach
  • Slow to eat or spilling feed
  • Wanting to open mouth when bit in
  • Won't take contact
  • Bolting
  • Prefers some bits to others
  • Weight loss or excessive weight gain
  • Foundering
  • Swollen cheek/packing grass (quidding)
  • Swelling around jaws
  • Bad odour from breath


Horses rely on their mouths to present food to their digestive system in very small particles.  The food is passed along the ridges of the roof of their mouth, each tooth doing it's job until it reaches the last molars.  These teeth act like a mortar and pestle grinding the food into a paste, to ensure all amino acids and other goodness can be extracted out of the food.  If the mouth cannot perform this efficiently horses will at first over eat and then eventually not be able to eat at all resulting in rapid weight loss. Horses with dental problems can go through stages of excessive weight gain through to total weight loss including muscle loss (topline).

All horses mouths are different: therefore every horse requires an individual assessment of what dental treatment is required.  Most dental problems in horses start out minor: however can accelerate onto major problems if unchecked.  Obscurities can start the day they are born and can become advanced at a young age: e.g. a 6 year old horse may not necessarily have a good mouth.

Horses usually start to show some of the above symptoms once the problem becomes more advanced.  Never wait until a horse is losing weight before you get its teeth checked: as by this stage it is most likely that the problem is serious and you could be putting your horse through unnecessary pain and anguish.

Your horse works hard for you and ultimately brings you a lot of joy when he is happy, therefore it is important to make the 'right decision' when it comes to your horses dental treatment.


Give us a call today if you would like to book your horse/s in for a dental check-up.

Warwick Behrns

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