Monday, August 22, 2011

Open Wide!

This past weekend Dr. Becky paid us a dental call.
The reason?
Floating teeth.
"Floating" teeth? you ask....

Simply put the term "float" is a British word for file.
So, floating teeth means to file them down.

For those of you who don't have horses,
I will give you a little explanation.

When horses' teeth first erupt in their mouths,
the teeth have very long roots.
So, over the course of a horse's lifetime, the tooth 
continues its eruption.
Because these animals use these molars for mastication
(I love that word and rarely get to use it!)

Because they use their molars to grind their food,
they wear them down.
So, although the teeth keep erupting, the main chewing surfaces stay ground down short.

However, a horse's top and bottom teeth do not line up perfectly.
They are offset a tiny bit with the top teeth resting on the bottom teeth,
but with a slight over-hang laterally.
Thus, as the horse grinds down his teeth, he ends up with sharp points on the lateral edge of 
his upper teeth's chewing surfaces,
and sharp points on the inner chewing surface of his bottom teeth.

Hence, yearly (or less frequent) filing of these sharp points 
makes for a much more comfortable chewing process.

Before the process is begun,
Becky injects a sedative, so the horse doesn't mind the process.

A speculum is placed in his mouth.
It fits sort of like a bit that rests on the front incisors and
straps around the head like a bridle.

The speculum ratchets open to hold the jaws apart,
so that the teeth can be visualized and
the filing done with no fear of being bitten.

Then a series of files are used to gently grind off
these sharp edges.

In the above picture, Moonbeam is resting his head on a stand,
very peacefully and comfortably "snoozing".

Here is Scarlet with a smaller speculum in her mouth.

Scarlet is un-sedated and accepts the speculum quite nicely.
She is too young to need her teeth floated,
but this allowed us to inspect her teeth and
check a tooth that has an impaction above it.

You can read about that HERE.

What a good pony!
Her impacted tooth remains as a lump on the outside of her jaw.
It has caused her no ill effects so far.
The baby tooth below it is not ready to fall out yet,
so we will just continue to watch this.

So there you have it!
And you thought going to the dentist was bad....
just be glad you don't have to have one of these contraptions
in your mouth!
And, would you mind telling me....
why do dentists always ask you questions while they have their
fingers and instruments in your mouth?
(I suspect they don't really care about the answers!)

And last....
both Saturday and Sunday,
Moonbeam and I went for an early morning ride.
Tacking up....

Trotting through the mist, around the arena....

Walking home...
stopping to talk with the turkeys....


  1. Ok I just have to say it, I LOVE those turkeys!!!

  2. Awesome post and photos !
    Your horses are beautiful ! Moonbeam is a lovely name for a Haflinger! Have a wonderful day !

  3. My orthodontist is going to be filing and reshaping a couple of my teeth later this week. NOT looking forward to it.. hopefully things go as smoothly for me as for your horse!

  4. Looking good in the saddle...BE CAREFUL!!! (I know , you always are)

  5. You look fab on a horse! I don't know how you do it are one very amazing woman!!! And beautiful doing it!

  6. soooo.... wild horses? How do they keep their teeth from developing into vampire fangs? Cynthia in Denver

  7. That does sound like quite the ordeal.

  8. That does sound like quite the ordeal.

  9. Bev, early morning rides were my favorites. This is quite the procedure isn't it but it certainly is worth it. Thanks for the great photo's! I really do miss riding. Have a wonderful day.
    Maura :)


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