Kathryn Woolley
Qualified Equine Dental Technician

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Why Equine Dentistry
Processes & Procedures
Dental Examination
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  • Take history, basic information
  • Restrain the horse appropriately, initially physically with a head collar and lead rope, with confinement to a well lit stable
  • A Veterinary Surgeon may be required to administer sedation at this point if the individual requires it
  • Check head for symmetry, by palpating the temporalis and masseter muscles for similar size- this could show preference to one side when eating if asymmetrical (figure 1)
  • Palpate around the sinus area for enlargement
  • Palpate the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) for a pain reaction (figure 2)
  • Check parotid salivary gland and lymph nodes for inflammation and enlargements - possibly an indication of strangles
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Figure 2
Figure 1
  • Run hand along the mandible checking for fractures and abcesses. Also eruption cysts, which are common up until the age of 4, they are non - painful enlargements of the normal tooth crown and root development (figure 3)
  • Place pressure along the cheek where the upper cheek teeth lie - observing for a reaction to pain
  • Observe the eyes and nostrils for uni / bilateral discharge
  • Palpate the commissures of the mouth for bit damage, melanomas especially in grey horses and check the colour of the mucosa for a healthy salmon pink colour
  • Palpate the bars of the mouth for bones spurs, unerupted canines and canines with tartar accumulation
Figure 3
  • Observe the incisors for number and correct formation / symmetry / bite. Check angle of incisors which should be 10 - 15 degrees relative to the bars of the mouth, in line with the facial crest and TMJ (figure 4)
  • Palpate rostral aspect of the 2nd premolar for wolf teeth - which erupt between 6-9 months of age
  • Finally perform a lateral excursion test, listening for the movement and contact between the upper and lower molar arcades.
Figure 4
  • Fit speculum (figure 5)
  • Wash out mouth with dose syringe
  • Observe with good light source and mirror if required
  • Disinfect kit
Figure 5
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