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Deer Park Animal Medical Center

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Routine and Advanced Dental Care for Dogs, Cats, & Horses

Caring for your pet's teeth and gums is an integral component to their overall health.  Preventative Care starts at an early age with brushing and may include feeding a tartar control diet to help remove soft tartar.  Developmental problems include: failure of baby teeth to shed resulting in malocclusion, abnormal emergence of adult teeth, over- and under-bites, failure of enamel to form properly, and overcrowding.  

Adult Dogs and Cats: 

Four out of Five Adult Dogs and Cats have some form of tartar accumulation with periodontal inflammation progressing to bone and tooth loss.  Periodic inspection reveals brown or yellow staining and surface material.  Your Pet's breath will be FOUL!  Additionally, the gums may be swollen, red, and bleed easily from a light touch.  Your pet may manifest pain by chewing only on one side of it's mouth, or not chewing food at all.
We commonly see broken teeth.  Most owners do not notice abnormalities in their pet's mouth.  Tumors in the oral cavity are more common in older pets.  Dental infection is PAINFUL, and dental infection results in the spread of bacteria into the blood stream affecting internal organs.  Prolonged dental infection may cause your pet to be less active and unresponsive to you.  Dental infection will shorten your pet's life!
Your pet will be anesthetized for his or her procedure.  Modern anesthetics are safe.  IV fluids are given and a cardiac respiratory monitor is always used.  During your pet's dental we evaluate injured teeth after they are cleaned.  Dental x-rays may be taken.  Suspicious teeth are evaluated.  Treatments include: extraction, pulverization of retained roots, root canal surgery to retain damaged teeth, medicated resins, gum resections, artificial bone replacement, and other means.  Most pets are admitted for dental procedures in the morning, and discharged later in the afternoon.  Some pets require blood evaluation and ECG prior to anesthesia.  Pain medication and antibiotics are prescribed as needed. 
(See Dental Radiography)  
Articles:  Dental Care for Cats  Dental Care for Dogs  Root Canal Treatment for Injured Teeth


Young horses' teeth continue to emerge throughout their lives with most adult teeth present by 5 years of age. Dental Health is crucial to a horse’s health, well-being, and performance. Dental Problems are common. In order to diagnose dental problems early and treat them effectively, it is important have your horse’s teeth examined yearly.

The teeth of horses continually grow throughout the animal’s life. The teeth can grow and wear unevenly just as a horse’s feet do. Certain dental problems, such as malocclusion (upper and lower teeth do not meet), broken teeth, and abnormal wear (as from cribbing), can interfere with a horse’s ability to ingest and grind it’s feed properly.

To do a quick examination of your horse’s teeth:

1) Lift the upper lip and observe the gums and upper incisors for wear and occlusion.
2) Pull down the lower lip with one hand and use the other hand to pull out the corner of the mouth. Observe the first few molars for sharp hooks and points, the sawtooth-like projections along the outer edge of the upper molar arcade and along the inner edge of the lower molar arcade. These teeth generally reflect the state of the other molars. Accumulations of “cuds” of chewed grass or hay in the cheeks indicate dental irritation.
3) In a darkened stall pull out the horse’s tongue and use a flashlight to look into the back of the mouth to see the rear molars, tongue and cheeks.

Dental problems can lead to eating difficulties, unwillingness to accept the bit, mouth injuries or sinus infections. Signs of dental disease include weight loss, difficulty chewing, dropping hay or grain while chewing, head-tossing during riding, nasal discharge, facial swelling, colic, and many whole pieces of grain in the manure. Poor feed utilization is common.

Important Points in Treatment

"Floating": A horse’s teeth periodically need to be filed down or floated to remove sharp points on the outside edges of the upper molars and inside edges of the lower molars. The average horse requires floating at least once a year to prevent injury to the cheeks and tongue. “Hooks” on mismatched teeth may need to be cut and smoothed.

Wolf Teeth: Wolf teeth are the rudimentary first upper premolars located near the large upper second premolars. These first appear in late yearlings. Bitting problems are more likely if the wolf teeth are small and loose. Wolf tooth removal is relatively simple.

Tartar: Accumulations of yellow-brown tartar or calculus around the base of the teeth should be periodically removed to prevent gum disease and tooth loss. Tartar usually accumulates around the canine teeth and occasionally the incisors.

Infection: Infection of an upper tooth can spread to the bony compartment between the roof of the mouth and the eye (maxillary sinus), causing sinus infection and pain, and a discharge from one nostril. Infection of a lower tooth can cause swelling along the jaw bone. Horses with tooth infection may have an unpleasant “rotten” odor about the mouth or emanating from the nostril on the same side as the sinus infection.

Malocclusion: When a tooth is missing, the tooth in the opposite arcade continues to grow and may require periodic cutting to prevent mouth injury and to allow normal chewing.


We can do routine dental floating on the farm for most horses with IV sedation.  For more complex procedures, restraint in a stocks at the clinic, or short term anesthesia may be required.  Horses may be dropped off for the day and retrieved later following their dental treatment.

(See Equine Services)

Articles:  Equine Dentition & Dental Problems  Horse Health Care

Member of the American Veterinary Dental Society