equine dentistry educating horse owners about the importance of proper equine dental care

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  • Equine Dentistry Educating horse owners about the importance of proper equine dental care
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  • The Basics About Horse Anatomy Important Facts You Should Know From Ancient to Modern Horse Complex Oral Anatomy Equine Chewing Cycle Important Age- Related Facts
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  • From Ancient to Modern Horse Horses were forest animals 55 million years ago (Eohippus-the dawn horse) Small (50 lbs) Short, square brachydont teeth Diet of succulent forage Five toes
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  • From Ancient to Modern Horse Evolved/adapted to live on grasslands Began in North America 32 extinct genera 150 species of fossil horses 4.5 million years ago, now a single toe Reintroduced to North America 16 th century
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  • From Ancient to Modern Horse 18m year old fossil of a three-toed horse Modern skull of a draft horse
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  • Complex Oral Anatomy Change was forced by increasingly abrasive foodstuffs. Short, square teeth became Hypsodont- long crowned teeth. Toes were lost, horses became larger, faces became longer, all cheek teeth became molar-like. Mandibles changed and added muscle.
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  • Complex Oral Anatomy The modern equine tooth is made of three tissues: Cementum, dentine and enamel Allows it to be self-sharpening Each arcade has: Three incisors May have one canine May have one vestigial pre-molar (wolf tooth) Three premolars, three molars
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  • Equine Chewing Cycle Horses move their jaws in three dimensions during function: Side to side Forward to back Obliquely during the power stroke All are important to correct function Chewing cycle occurs 11 times in 10 seconds. The life of equine teeth is maximized when the forces of mastication are evenly distributed along the whole arcade.
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  • Equine Chewing Cycle Incisors harvest forage. Horses have top and bottom incisors that allow harvesting of most nutritious grass. Tongue and ridges in roof of mouth move feed back between cheek teeth (premolars and molars) which act as a single grinding unit. Canines are fighting teeth, found in all males and some mares. Wolf teeth apparently do nothing. Draft Horse skull shown with Tridian numbering system
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  • Equine Chewing Cycle If horses spends their life on pasture, the whole arcade is used. The mastication force is spread evenly. The oblique motion of the jaw is maximized. Teeth tend to wear more evenly. In general, less malocclusions occur.
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  • Equine Chewing Cycle Horses who have minimal pasture have greater up and down movement Mastication force is more crushing than grinding The mastication occurs more in the rear portion of the mouth In general, more malocclusions and sharp points
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  • Eruption Times of Equine Teeth At birth, a horses face cannot accommodate full complement of teeth. Three deciduous incisors erupt starting from the center at seven days, seven weeks and seven months. All 12 deciduous premolars are present at birth or erupt soon after. Molars do not have a deciduous precursor. Molars erupt at year 1, 2, and 3.5 years.
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  • Eruption Times of Equine Teeth Permanent incisors (center to corner) replace their deciduous precursors at: 2 years 6 months 3 years 6 months 4 years 6 months Deciduous premolars are replaced at: 2 years 6 months 2 years 8 months 3 years 8 months
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  • Eruption Times of Equine Teeth In the space of 24 months, 24 deciduous teeth are replaced by their permanent counterparts. This is a time when scrutiny of the horses mouth is important.
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  • Eruption Times of Equine Teeth Canines (fighting teeth) usually erupt at 4 6 years in males. They are often absent or rudimentary in mares. Wolf teeth (vestigial 1 st premolars) usually erupt at 6-12 months of age. Neither of these teeth serve a purpose in mastication.
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  • Why Horses Need Dental Care Goals of Proper Equine Dental Care What about the Wild horse? Elements of the Dental Exam
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  • Goals of Proper Equine Dental Care A thorough examination is necessary to ensure any abnormality or acquired disease process is recognized Optimize function of the Equine stomatognathic system by: Removing excessive masticatory forces on individual teeth due to malocclusionsRemoving excessive masticatory forces on individual teeth due to malocclusions Preserving tooth structure by equilibrating eruptionPreserving tooth structure by equilibrating eruption Preventing periodontal diseasePreventing periodontal disease Alleviate pain Address oral issues that prevent horses of any age or type from functioning at an optimum level
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  • Goals of Proper Equine Dental Care Making dentistry a regular element of a horses care: Prevents early problems from becoming lifelongPrevents early problems from becoming lifelong Finds hidden, very painful problems, therefore alleviating sufferingFinds hidden, very painful problems, therefore alleviating suffering Allows horses to keep functional teeth for their entire lifeAllows horses to keep functional teeth for their entire life
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  • What about the wild horse? The wild horse spends up to 17 hours per day grazing. The wild horse eats no prepared food. The wild horse wears no tack. The wild horse is not asked to perform intricate tasks. The wild horse sometimes became thin and became prey!
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  • Elements of the Dental Exam Treating the whole horse Correct Equipment Access to Additional Diagnostics
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  • Elements of the Dental Exam The most important component is interest, desire and education. The mouth is only a part of the whole horse. Examination begins with a general exam and evaluation of the whole horse. It is not unusual to find other significant health issues. 4% of horses examined dont get dentistry that day, says Bob Gregory, DVM
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  • Elements of the Dental Exam History Physical exam Sedation Full mouth speculum Bright light source Correct equipment (mirror, cheek retractor, picks, etc) Access to additional diagnostics (lab, x-ray equipment and MRI)
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  • Dental Care for the Life of the Horse Popular Myths The Facts Young Horses Wolf Teeth, Caps and Bit Seats The Mature Horse The Geriatric Horse
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  • Popular Myths about Dental Care Young horses dont need dental care. Wild horses dont get dental care so mine doesnt need it. Horses only need dental care every few years. I am able to tell when my horse needs dental care.
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  • The Facts about Proper Dental Care All ages benefit from regular dental exams! At birth to two years: Evaluate to determine if everything developed correctly. 2-5 years: Evaluate to determine if all permanent teeth erupted as they should. 5-20 years: Regular checkups to make sure no disease or injury threatens the health of the horse. Geriatrics: Evaluate to make sure the horse can eat properly, if the horse is in pain and to answer questions on feeding a geriatric horse.
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  • Dental Care for Young Horses From two to four years, 24 deciduous teeth are exchanged for 24 permanent teeth. Intervention in this period can prevent major malocclusions later in life. Tooth eruption often occurs at exactly the same time you are first putting a bit in your horses mouth.
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  • Wolf Teeth, Caps & Bit Seats Wolf teeth are best removed early, when roots are not firmly attached. Caps (remnant of deciduous teeth) should come out on schedule but not be prematurely removed. Bit seats can increase comfort for the horse, but need to be properly done and not overdone. Six months to one year is an appropriate interval between dental exams for this age group.
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  • The Mature Horse Making a dental exam part of an annual exam is good insurance. Regular observation during this period assures that malocclusions do not get the upper hand. Preservation of teeth is maximized by this regular scrutiny. Dental visits offer an opportunity to assess the whole horse.
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  • Geriatric Horses are a Special Group Horses are living longer. Good dental care continues to be important. Giving the geriatric a pain-free mouth is our goal. Preventing chronic oral infection (periodontal disease). Dental care plus nutritional adjustments allow an older horse to maintain weight.
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  • Who Should Provide Dental Care A Team Approach Veterinary Education & Licensure Myths and Facts Licensed Veterinary Professionals
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  • A Team Approach We assert that a team consisting of a Horse Owner and their Veterinarian is best for the horse. The persons responsible for the care of the horse on a regular basis have the opportunity to assure health and longevity. Dentistry is ONE element of good health care and must be coupled with a complete examination.
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  • Veterinary Education & Licensure To adequately care for the horse one must: Understand anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology and clinical applications of these basics Be able to assess the whole horse and recognize the signs that dictate the most pressing health issues Apply cli


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