The Exam

Horse teeth

A thorough examination is the basis for all dental procedures and requires, at a minimum, four components.

The components are

  • sedation
  • a full mouth speculum
  • a bright headlight, and
  • a mirror.

More diagnostics such as the use of a periodontal probe, explorer and radiography (X-rays) may be needed based on the dental condition of each individual horse. Significant dental disease is easily overlooked without these items.

Many of us are familiar with the “old” examination technique of pulling the lip out at the corner of the mouth and looking for sharp points on the first cheek tooth, or feeling the edge of this tooth, and then being told “the teeth are fine.” This process is completely inadequate and many dental problems are missed further back in the mouth.

Think back to your last dental examination. Would you be satisfied if your dentist “examined” your teeth and did not use a light, never looked in your mouth, lifted up your lip, rubbed a finger on your front teeth, then said your teeth are fine? What would you think of the quality of that examination? We would all think this was a poor and unacceptable examination.

This type of cursory examination is also substandard for horses.

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