horse teeth

Why do horses need dental treatment?

Horses' mouths are designed to masticate (chew) long fibred feed such as long grasses. Before horses were domesticated they grazed large areas of wild grasses which had coarse long fibres which required intensive effort to grind. The substantial side to side movement required to masticate these types of fibres and the amount of time spent grazing ensured their teeth wore naturally and evenly. Since domestication, horses are fed refined diets of cereal grains and short fibred feed and many horses are no longer allowed to be grazing animals. In addition to this most grasses you find in the paddocks are sown and maintained by human hand. Due to these reasons the levelling effect of long fibres across the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the teeth is greatly reduced and the teeth wear unevenly. The chewing effort required to chew the feed is reduced and the horse has impaired mandibular excursion, meaning that the jaw sweeps are shorter and shallower, resulting in an increased angle on the molars which present as sharp points on the lingual edge of the lower molars and buccal edge of the upper molars. Horses then require regular dental treatment to file the sharp points to eliminate lacerations of the cheeks and lips and prevent further damage to the teeth. There are many other reasons that horses need regular dental treatment including bite disorders, periodontal disease and overcrowding issues.

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