Horses are animals who depend heavily on their mouth. As such, their dental health is super important to their overall health.
When one understands that a horse’s tooth grows at over 3mm a year, it’s important to realise that a healthy mouth is not something which is a set and forget issue.
It’s highly recommended to get regular dental checks with a professional for your pony every year.
With this in mind, lets firstly consider what signs we should be looking out for which could be indicators that our pony has a tooth ache.....
Signs of a mouth/teeth issue with your Horse!
Change in eating habits:
If it goes off its’s food –
If your horse stops eating as much, or stops eating anything, the first thing to check is it’s mouth.
Like us, if we have a sore in our mouth, or a tooth ache, they won’t feel hungry…… And if you haven’t changed it’s diet, it’s a good indication that you may have a mouth issue.
Drops it’s food –
This is related to the same points as per above. If it is dropping its food, it’s a sign that firstly, it’s hungry, and then secondly, it hurts to chew….. The very fact that it wants to eat is a good indication that there is a problem in the mouth if it is dropping its food at the same time!
In both these instances, it’s a good thing to check out the mouth first just to rule that out…… then you can go from there should the mouth and teeth seem fine.
Eating with it’s head tilting to one side
Of course, If you notice your pony tilting it’s head to one side when it is eating, it may be a sign that it has a sore in its mouth.
It may not be doing it just to look cute!!!
There are many reasons why a pony can lose weight, but remember to check the mouth first. Being in pain subdues the hunger response but also take a fair bit of energy to manage……
Negative Bridle Re-actions
If you put a bridle on with a bit, and your pony gets upset, and this is of course out of the ordinary, then it might be the ponies way of saying something is hurting.
If they are used to having a bit in their mouth while riding, then this reaction should be seen as a sign, and at the very least, check out the inside of the mouth to see what is going on!
Just like in us, bad breath can be a sign of gum disease and gingivitis……. Also, it can be a sign of a sore which is going bad.
If you notice your horse have unusually bad breath, take a careful look inside of the mouth…….
Swelling on the jaw
Obviously any swelling, anywhere, is a bad indication….. but take note of your ponies head. If you notice any sudden swelling around the jaw, or lumps which are not normally there, this can be a big indicator that there is a problem inside the mouth.
So what types of dental problems are there???
Well, there are quite a few things to watch out for, but essentially it all comes down to the health of their teeth and even wear and tear……
Types of Dental Problems:
Sharp Enamel Points –
These can be very common. They occur when a sharp point develops on the cheek side of the tooth. When the horse chews, it cuts the cheek, or tongue, and as such causes ulcers which can be very painful.
Tartar Build Up –
Tartar is a mineral build up on the teeth. It occurs more on the teeth close to where the saliva ducts empty into the mouth.
Tartar is a normal condition which can look worse than it is. This is because it is quite porous and thus, discolors easily.
It’s big problem is that it gives plaque, which is a film of bacteria, more surface area to live on….. This plaque can then cause tooth decay or gum disease.
So it’s important not to let Tatar build up so much that it then causes a secondary problem…. The good news is, it’s quite easy for a professional to get rid of.
Uneven Incisors – Front Teeth
This can indicate signs of a Jaw not in proper alignment, or broken or missing teeth.
Missing Teeth –
Obviously, if you notice your horse with missing teeth, there’s a problem….
Hooks occur when the upper and lower teeth are out of alignment and part of the tooth is wearing down on one part of the tooth, and the other part that isn’t being worn down naturally keeps growing….. this causes a hook like growth which can have a similar result like sharp enamel points do on the jaw, tongue, and cheek.
All teeth will wear down naturally over time. It’s important in a horses mouth because their teeth will continue to grow. As such, the natural order of things is for the teeth to slowly wear down because of the grinding nature of how they chew their food.
Some things which are caused by uneven wear are as follow
- Shear Mouth
- Wave mouth
- Step Mouth
Obviously, there are many ailments which can affect a horse. Checking the teeth regularly, and the mouth, with a trained professional is one really important way to keep your pony healthy.
And, of course, after any dentists appointment, make sure you give them a healthy Horse Treat just for good measure to show them how well behaved they were......
Also, the older they are, the more important it is to keep a keen eye on the health of their teeth!
I hope this has given you something to think about. Obviously, not being a trained dental professional, everything mentioned in this article are simply to stimulate thought about how one can look after their horses health better.
The team here at Huds and Toke really care about the health of the animals which enjoy our Healthy Horse Treats and Pet Treats.... we don't just make them to a world class standard..... we truly want them to be healthy for your pets.... because we care about them and about you having a best friend to create awesome memories with!
As always, please take some photos of you and your ponies and share them with us on our socials..... we love seeing them and really appreciate all of those who do.
Stay safe, enjoy your pets and go and Create Awesome memories.
All the best from the team @ Huds and Toke.
PS: Please feel free to post a review on one of these review sites…….we appreciate the thought and it all helps. Thanks.