|Feeling Harley's molars|
Harley's equine dentist taught me how to feel the junction between the upper and lower jaw. The junction feels like a ridge, as the upper and lower jaw do not line up exactly like human teeth. The upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw. You can feel the overlapping upper jaw from outside the horse's mouth. Standing next to your horse, very gently massage up against the "ridge". If your horse throws his head up in protest, he may be ready for his next dental appointment. Of course, this is only one small indicator and floating is not the entirety of equine dentistry. Regular, competent dental care is necessary for all domestic horses.
The molars of domestic horses often form sharp points. The points form on the outside of the upper molars and on the inside of the lower molars. The points hook down and up, respectively, against the opposite molar. If the points are not removed by floating, the upper and lower jaw will not be able to slide laterally as the horse chews, grinding his food with a circular motion of the lower jaw. I have seen the veterinarian and my teacher hold the upper and lower jaw and test how easily they will slide past one another. As the points on the molars become long, the jaws will not slide back and forth. The points will worsen since the teeth and plant material can no longer wear down the edges of the molars. It should go without saying that this will impact the horse's ability to chew his food and perform his duties as a safe, fun, riding horse. Take care when pressing the cheek against the teeth, because if the outer surfaces of the teeth are rough, the skin inside the mouth could be sensitive or even injured. The sharpness of horse teeth must also be considered if you open your horse's mouth and hold his tongue to examine his teeth. A horse can cut his own tongue if it is pulled against his teeth. Always use caution when putting your own hands in your horse's mouth.
As long as the horse's cheek is comfortable next to his teeth, most horses enjoy their gums and cheek massaged right along this ridge. Gently circle the pads of your fingers or flatten your fingers and apply some pressure back and forth. Allow your horse's response to guide your technique. This is a little thing that I do, once in a while, when I am grooming my horse. I massage both sides at once when I am not holding a camera. ;)
Harley drops his neck and gives me the soft eye during a nice gum massage.
|Harley likes his dentist. The dentist believes that most horses feel better after a float and remember this when the next visit rolls around. Harley's will be coming up in October or November.|
Equine Dental Care
The Dental Dilemma