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How Can I Tell if my Horse Needs Dental Work?

In this article Melissa McKee, DVM, describes seven common dental problems in horses and how to tell if your horse needs a check-up.

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By: Melissa McKee |

Horses have evolved to survive by constantly grazing on whatever forages are available in their environment. This typically consisted of coarse grasses and other fibrous plant materials. The constant grinding motion of chewing and breaking down these materials to start the digestive process causes excessive wear and tear on the teeth, particularly the molars. In fact, if horses were born with teeth like ours, they would quickly wear them down to the gums with all that chewing, and ultimately starve. Instead, nature came up with an efficient system to continually replace the grinding surfaces on the teeth, ensuring that the horse could effectively break down plant material well into their twenties. This is achieved by the evolution of teeth that continue to “grow,” or erupt, throughout the horse's lifetime, until the root is effectively used up. Depending on how coarse the diet is, most horses have enough reserve crown to…

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