The equine tooth differs from the human tooth in that it continues to erupt throughout the life of the horse. Horses are born with "baby teeth" (deciduous teeth) just like humans which need to come out so adult teeth can have plenty of room. As the teeth are in wear, the chewing surface can become misaligned and sharp points can form causing uncomfortable ulcers and other issues in the mouth.
Routine dental examinations are needed to locate and correct problems before they start. Dental examinations should be performed starting at 6 months of age, every 6 months for growing horses, yearly for the mature horse, and every 6 months for the geriatric horse.
Issues often seen during your horses dental exam are:
Mal-occlusion: sometimes the horse's teeth don't match up well and make it difficult for the animal to eat comfortably. "Wave mouth", "Step mouth" and "Wedge mouth" are just a few of these mal-occlusion problems.
Sharp enamel points: As your horse grinds his feed, the molars can form peaks and valleys as the crown of the tooth is slowly worn down. Routine dental "floating" will reduce these painful sharp points and make your horse a more efficient eater.
Retained "Caps": as the deciduous baby teeth start to fall out and the adult teeth erupt, sometimes one or more of the "caps" (stubborn baby teeth) need a little help coming loose. These retained caps can be painful and even become a source of infection if left without treatment.
Bit irritation: For performance horses, a comfortable mouth is essential, so the bit can function as it was designed. Sometimes a "bit seat" is placed on the first cheek teeth to ensure no interference or pain caused by bit or teeth.
Sinus or tooth root infection:
Fractured or broken teeth.