A dental with Brandon Equine Medical Center IS NOT just about sharp “points.” Our veterinarians conduct comprehensive oral exams that include an evaluation of oral function, symmetry, and the alignment of incisors and molars.  Brandon Equine veterinarians have completed extensive dentistry training including the anatomy and physiology of the equine mouth and have completed countless dental procedures of all types.

Click here to read the American Associations of Equine Practitioners (AAEP)’s article: Equine Dentistry: Why Equine Veterinarians are Uniquely Qualified.

We also utilize a custom built 28ft trailer that is fully equipped to handle all ambulatory services, including dentistry, in safety and in air-conditioned comfort.

Dental care is an important part of the complete health picture of your horse and contributes to healthy digestion, body condition and performance. It is very important to have a thorough oral exams on your horse because horses have hypsodont teeth. Hypsodont teeth continue to erupt (or grow) throughout a horse’s life.

Protect your horse from mouth related pain and illness with twice yearly oral exams by a Brandon Equine veterinarian.

Send your dentistry inquiries to lnorth@brandonequine.com or call
813-643-7177 to schedule an appointment.  You may also request an appointment by completing our online appointment request form.

Dental Care Protocol for Horses

Foals are initially checked for any malformation in the maxilla (skull) or malocclusion of the mandible (jaw) such as Wry Nose, Overjet, Overbite, Underjet, Underbite. At this time a long-term plan can be put together if needed to correct any abnormalities. Typically the first actual dental exam/float is done between 18 to 20 months and at this point any wolf teeth will be removed relative to their size.

Between the ages of two and five, the twice-yearly exams allow for monitoring of erupting permanent teeth and extraction of any deciduous (baby) teeth or fragments that are interfering with the bite.

From the ages of five to twenty, the prime work years, twice yearly dental exams maintain the 3-point balance of the mouth thus preventing bit issues, maintaining the correct bite pattern, and maximizing the mastication process (i.e. chewing). These exams routinely can identify broken teeth, jaw fractures, oral injuries, gum disease, cavities, sinus infections and lodged foreign bodies.

After the age of twenty, as the eruption process slows, annual exams are sufficient providing the horse is maintaining its weight and there are not other underlying issues.

Preventing dental problems from occurring or catching them at an early stage is yet another reason why your horse should have routine dental exams and treatments. Teeth are a non-renewable resource and should be handled with care. Overall, horses’ teeth are a vital part of having a happy and healthy horse.

Know the Dental Problem Warning Signs!

  • Weight loss
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Difficulty eating
  • Refusing certain types of food
  • Refusing food completely
  • Slow or reluctant to eat
  • Quidding or dropping feed
  • Packing food into the cheeks
  • Food / hay being passed through in manure
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Facial swelling (under the jaw, side of face or above eyes)
  • Colic
  • Esophageal choke
  • Nasal discharge
  • Drooling or salivation
  • Poor performance
  • Difficulty with the bit
  • Chewing on the bit
  • Head shaking
  • Abnormal head movement or carriage
  • Tilting the head while being ridden
  • Unable to ride in an outline, on the bit, slow to make transitions
  • Behavior changes

Rostral Hooks

Rostral hooks are an overgrowth of the first premolar 1/6 or 2/6. It is the first upper tooth visible.

In most cases, if a rostral hook is present, it is very likely that a caudal hook is present (aka a “ramp”).

Typically, horses with this problem tend to have an overjet or an over bite. This is usually completely correctable!

It can be caused by the height at which the horse is fed. If the horse eats off the ground, then all the teeth are in the natural position. Once the horse is fed up higher, as seen in a lot of show barns using hay feeders, the jaw/mandible shifts back, therefore the teeth grind out of occlusion causing rostral & caudal hooks.

Incisor Alignment

Correction of the incisors is very important for many reasons. The angle of the incisors can affect the ability of the horse to masticate its food. When the incisors are too long, the surface contact of the premolars & molars is lessened. By reducing the height of the incisors & adjusting the angle, this will put more contact on the premolars & molars. The amount to which the incisors can be adjusted and corrected depends on the age and condition of the horse. Every horse is different and each case is evaluated prior to any corrective work being performed.

In some severe cases, it may take 3 or 4 sessions to gradually correct a malocclusion without damaging the horse’s teeth. This may take up to 18 months in rare instances.


Equine malocclusion is a misalignment between the upper and lower jaws resulting in the teeth failing to meet correctly. This can cause the horse pain and lead to problems including weight loss, loss of appetite, other eating problems and discomfort leading to poor behavior.

Enamel Hypoplasia

Enamel hypoplasia is a condition where the enamel does not form correctly, or is damaged during its development. This will result in a defect of or a chipping off of the enamel covering. This will result in exposure of the underlying dentin. The defect can be isolated to one tooth or area of a tooth, or may be widespread throughout the dental arcade. The teeth are only slightly weaker than normal teeth, but are much more susceptible to wear, as dentin is not as wear resistant as enamel is. If aesthetics are a concern and the involved area is not too big, then a restoration can be placed over the area. This restorationcan be lost as well, but the new bonding agents are fairly effective. If the chance of wear is excessive, or the chance of fracture is high then crown therapy is warranted. These teeth are normally vital, however before any restorations are placed, it is best to ensure this with dental radiographs.