Telephone: 01357 520251

Dental - Equine - Avondale Vets

Dental care of your horse is an important part of their all round healthcare and as such we provide a dentistry service from vets who have undertaken further specialist training from the British Equine Veterinary Association. All equine vets at Avondale are trained in advanced dentistry.

Ideally, the vet should check your horse’s teeth at least once a year; this is because horse’s teeth continually grow. Depending on the individual horse, the dental care required can vary from an annual manual rasp to specialised motorised work being required on a more frequent basis. Some common problems we see include overgrowths of individual teeth, (sometimes as a result of the opposing tooth which should wear it down being missing), ulceration of cheeks from sharp points on the teeth, and diastemata, where gaps between the teeth allow food to pack and rot, leading to gum inflammation.

Things to watch out for which may suggest your horse has a problem with their teeth include:

  • Dropping half chewed food (quidding)
  • Head shaking or abnormal head carriage when ridden
  • Eating more slowly than usual
  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Weight loss
  • One-sided nasal discharge
  • Swelling on the face or lower jaw
  • Sticking tongue out of the mouth

What to expect at a dental examination

All horses having their teeth examined will have the gag put on.  This is not painful but allows us to open the horses mouth and see and feel to the furthest back teeth without the horse

being able to bite accidentally.  We will feel for any abnormalities like sharp points or overgrown teeth and where possible examine the mouth visually using a dental mirror.  We will usually ask you if you have noticed anything different in the way your horse has been eating or how they have been with the bit.

Not only are all of our Equine Vet's fully trained in advanced dentistry, but we upgraded our equipment to ensure each Vet is kitted out with the latest in hand-held, wireless motorised equipment. We are aiming to replace the use of our traditional hand-held tools with this new unit wherever possible, as we believe we can offer a better service to you and your horse, while still maintaining proper safety standards.

IMG_4858.JPGThis precision kit with inbuilt illumination will replace our manual hand-held tools and result in a faster, smoother dental experience for your horse. We have found that horse's who previously did not tolerate hand-tools well are often better with this system. Those who needed sedated for dental work also frequently require a smaller dose. The need for sedation is obviously dictated by your Vet on the day, but we have found this a positive outcome so far.



As you can see in the pictures, the 'apple-corer' shaped burr allows for very specific placement of the rasp to target focal areas of your horse's teeth:


This attachment can be used on a variety of dental issues, but pimarily can target focal, isolated overgrowths (e.g. opposite and extraction site or diastema) in a very precise, quick fashion.


Another great feature of this unit, is the ability to change the angle on these attachments to fit your horse's mouth. As we know, a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works!

In many circumstances horses will allow their mouths to be examined and rasped without sedation but for complex procedures and motorised dental work, sedation is necessary for the welfare of the horse and the safety of the vet and of course yourself! Equally, some horses will not allow the gag to be put on or are unhappy with their teeth being rasped, and if this is the case, sedation will be required so that we can perform a thorough examination and treatment as necessary.


A condition which seems to becoming more frequent is diastemas (diastemata).This is where food is trapped and becomes impacted between teeth, most commonly cheek teeth. Horses vigorously masticate fibrous food for over 18 hours per day, and even the smallest space between two cheek teeth will allow some food fibres aligned in the direction of the abnormal space to be forced into it and cannot be removed naturally by the horse.  The food eventually rots causing progressive stretching, inflamamtion and destruction of the periodontal ligament, which holds the tooth in place and secondary infection can  exacerbate this very painful periodontal disease.

In the UK, diastemata of the cheek teeth is the major cause of quidding in horses, particularly in cases where no significant dental overgrowths are present. Diastemata may cause halitosis, quidding, food in the cheek  and in advanced cases weight loss. Horse with diastemata have more difficulty chewing long fibres such as hay or haylage compared to short fibres and so are often asymptomatic on short grass, which has softer and finer fibres.

Treatment of this condition involves cleaning out and widening of the interdental space using a diamond encrusted burr. When performed by a trained operator, this procedure is of enormous value to most cases. With many horses that have had severe oral pain and quidding for years becoming asymptomatic within a week or so of treatment and some younger horses becoming permanently cured. (see separate diastema information sheet - click here to view)


Out of Hours Emergency Equine 07810564020

Visit Us

Avondale Veterinary Group
Avondale House
Strathaven Rural Centre
South Lanarkshire
ML10 6SY

Telephone:  01357 520251 Fax: 01357 521227

Avondale Vets - Equine Opening Hours

Farm and Equine
Our normal office hours for the farm and equine departments are 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday.  The main surgery is open 8am to 7pm Mon-Fri and 8.30am to 12 noon Saturday to collect drugs or make an appointment please telephone 01357 520251.