Dental care for horses has undergone tremendous development over the past 15 years and is not only essential to prevent the horse from developing dental problems but also to prevent and/or resolve other issues. Problems such as difficulty in steady contact to the bit, headshaking, gastrointestinal problems, diarrhoea, weight loss, etc. can also be the result of abnormalities in the mouth.

A horse has 12 incisors, 24 molars, 1 to 4 canines and 1 to 4 wolf teeth. These elements grow 2-5 mm annually to compensate for the wear and tear to which the teeth are subjected. When this wear is not done correctly and the balance in the teeth is disturbed then sharp points, hooks, diastemas (spaces between the teeth), mucosal damage, inflammation and other problems can develop. This can result in the horse showing symptoms such as bad breath, quidding, loss of appetite, slow eating, food accumulation in the cheeks, unilateral nasal discharge, weight loss and difficulties while being ridden. At the SMDC, these problems can be investigated in a multidisciplinary way and your horse can be evaluated by the dentist in combination with an orthopedic and/or physiotherapeutic examination if needed.


Good dental care for your horse is essential for:

  • Good digestion of food
  • Good anterior-posterior and lateral movement of the lower jaw
  • Preventing problems during riding
  • Longer life of functional teeth.

It is advised to have a dental inspection carried out on every horse at least once a year and to have it treated if necessary. At the SMDC we treat all horses with sedation and electric floats to be able to treat each tooth individually and accurately.

The wolf teeth on the horse are in front of the “first” molars and can cause riding problems as they interfere with the bit. Our advice is to have the wolf teeth removed before the horse is broken to saddle. The annual dental care of your horse can be carried out in the specially equipped dentistry clinic at the SMDC or, in case of multiple horses, at your stable.

Dental endoscopy

For the examination of the teeth, a good headlamp and mirror are required to be able to check the molars from all sides. At the SMDC it is possible to examine the oral cavity with a dental scope, a small camera, and to view the images on a screen. The dental scope allows for a more precise examination and detailed documentation.

Restorative Dentistry

Incisors, canine teeth as well as molars can be filled at the SMDC.

  • Incisors and canine teeth can be filled within 24-48 hours in the event of trauma where the pulp (the cavity in the tooth where the blood vessels, nerves and lymphatics are) has been opened. With this treatment, the pulp is covered to prevent an infection (root canal infection).
  • Molars can be filled in case of infundibular caries.

Incisor extraction

Incisor extractions are necessary in some cases. For example, when there is an old fracture, a root canal infection or EOTRH. Extraction of the incisors is performed on the standing, sedated horse. A local and/or nerve block is used for this so that the horse cannot feel it.


This abbreviation stands for Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis, a disease of the incisors mainly in older horses. The condition is characterized by inflammation of the mucosa, thickening and/or resorption of the roots of the teeth. As the mucosa retracts the roots become visible. It is a very painful condition. Clinical and radiological examination can be used to determine which elements need to be removed in order to relieve the pain and make the horse comfortable.

Molar extraction

In the past, molars were removed by stamping. A highly invasive treatment that required the horse to be put under general anesthesia. Today, more than 95% of tooth extractions are done through the mouth. The horse is sedated while standing and the nerves to the molar are blocked. The removal of the molar can be performed in the following ways:

  • Oral extraction: the entire molar or all parts of the molar are removed through the oral cavity with several forceps.
  • Minimally invasive buccotomy: in the absence of the clinical crown or in case of carious, fragile molars, the relevant molar is loosened by means of a 10 mm incision in the horse’s cheek. By turning a threaded end into the affected tooth, the tooth can be pulled out of the jaw.
  • Segmentation: by dividing the affected tooth in 2 or more parts, the tooth can be removed.