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Because horses are adaptable creatures, even if they are having discomfort, some do not show any signs of dental problems. So don't assume that if there are no symptoms, there are no problems.
Sharp teeth edges can hurt inside of your horse's mouth causing pain and creating sores on her tongue or cheeks. Your horse may show resistance when riding due to added pain from bit pressing against sores.
The vet or equine dentist will carefully file all your horse's teeth that need smoothing to achieve a flat grinding surface between upper and lower teeth. Having your horse's teeth floated is well worth it so she digests her food better, is in better spirits, and makes riding more enjoyable for you both.
How often floating is necessary varies quite a bit from one horse to another. Some horses seem to have slower-growing teeth and may require floating only once every several years while others may require floating every few months. Even if your horse does not require her teeth to be floated often, it is still a good idea to have her teeth and gums examined once a year.
The procedure vet typically uses to float your horse's teeth is to first sedate your horse to make her relaxed. A special halter is put on with a rope thrown over a ceiling rafter or equivalent in order to hold your horse's head up. A mouth speculum is used to keep your horse's mouth open. The vet will then either manually file your horse's teeth using a rasp in a back and forth motion to flatten high points, or may use a power tool. The whole procedure is quick and painless - taking about 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
If you're like me, you cringe at thought of someone filing away on your teeth with a rasp. You can imagine shooting pain from nerves in your teeth. Personally, dentist can't give me enough Novocain to make me feel comfortable before poking around or drilling in my mouth.
Unlike us, a horse's nerves end close to gumline, so there is no nerve where tooth is being worked on, and therefore does not feel any nerve pain. We humans should be so lucky.
Randall Holman, site owner of Front Range Frenzy and horse enthusiast, is the author of the above article. You will find other easy and practical basic horse care information on his website: http://www.FrontRangeFrenzy.com