Dentistry is something we are very passionate about at Lower House Equine Clinic, and we understand and recognise the importance it has in general health and welfare and also in ridden work.


For certain cases that require additional expertise, we are able to offer you access to our visiting dental specialist – Neil Townsend MSc BVSc Cert ES (Soft Tissue) DipECVS DipEVDC (Equine) MRCVS RCVS Specialist in Equine Surgery European Specialist in Equine Dentistry.

We are able to carry out advanced dental procedures in our clinic. This includes dental extractions and dental restorations.

Neil joins us approximately once a month to perform advanced dentistry at the clinic, this includes surgical extraction using some of the latest specialist surgical extraction techniques. Learn More >

The Importance of Regular Equine Dental Checks

Equine dentistry is continually advancing and has progressed rapidly over the last decade. The emphasis over recent years has turned to preventative dentistry. By the time horses are showing visible external signs of dental disease, such as balling up food (quidding), losing weight or swellings around the head, then often this can represent advanced dental disease with conditions in their end-stage. This means that conditions may not be able to be reversed and more radical treatment such as tooth removal might be needed. Routine examination of the equine mouth as well as routine dental work is essential to pick-up and to try and prevent dental conditions in the mouth.


Signs of end stage advanced dental disease can be much easier to recognise than more subtle early disease. Horses have adapted not to show dental pain, and as a general rule by the time they are showing signs it is quite advanced.

  • Losing weight
  • Quidding Forage (Balling up forage and leaving balls of undigested forage on floor)
  • Dropping food
  • Bad smell from the mouth
  • One sided nasal discharge (could be a sign of sinusitis caused from a tooth root)
  • Swelling of the face
  • Enlargement of the lymph nodes under the jaw, particularly on one side
  • Taking longer to eat than normal
  • Reluctance to eat
  • Slight change in grazing habits such as standing around not eating in the field etc.
  • Change in social hierarchy with other horses such as last to eat or being more submissive
  • Change in ridden behaviour and performance;
    Evading a contact, Leaning on the bit, Throwing the head, Rearing, Stopping at jumps, Reluctance to go forward


Examination of the horse’s mouth comprises one of the main parts of equine dentistry. The mouth is rinsed to remove any excess feed material left in the mouth. The mouth is then examined using a combination of manually examining the dental arcades by hand, visual inspection using dental lights and mirrors, and using probes to examine the mouth.

Some of the conditions that may be picked up on a routine dental examination include infundibular caries, peripheral caries, diastemata, fractured teeth, displaced teeth, extra teeth, missing teeth, exposure of pulp cavity, focal overgrowths and excessive transverse ridges.


This is a condition causing decay of the tooth enamel and dentin, causing a cavity in the tooth. It can either occur on top of the tooth on the occlusal surface (infundibular caries) or occur on the outside edges of the tooth (peripheral caries). There are different grades of caries. Caries itself may not cause pain but will lead to weakening of the tooth which will eventually cause to tooth to fracture or become rotten. Caries are often explored with a probe.


These are little gaps in between the teeth where feed material gets stuck. The food can then become impacted in this gap and cause infection and pocketing of food around the tooth, called periodontal pocketing. This can cause infection and inflammation to track down the tooth causing irritation to the periodontal nerve and may cause infection of the tooth.


Either as a result of trauma or from weakening of the tooth from a condition such as caries, a tooth can become fractured and even split in two. This then allows pocketing of food around the tooth, causing further infection and pain.

Displaced Teeth – The teeth should normally sit together in a line, sometimes as the teeth erupt into the mouth, one of the teeth is displaced into a different position. This causes an uneven wearing pattern with the other teeth, and can cause overgrowths in the mouth.


It is not unusual for some horses to have extra teeth, similarly some horses can lose teeth and have missing teeth. This can cause a misalignment to the normal grinding surfaces of the teeth.

Focal Overgrowths – Horses’ teeth are continually erupting within the mouth, and wearing against their opposite tooth keeps the height maintained. When the teeth do not quite line up with each other, some parts of the teeth may not meet their opposite tooth. As a result that part of the tooth can become overgrown, and if left can eventually cause a large overgrowth in the mouth.


If you have any questions about Lower House Equine Clinic, our facilities or services, please feel free to contact us using any of the details below…

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