Good afternoon everyone and a happy new year! You might notice from the byline that I have moved my mainly mobile practice into a new physical plant.

Good afternoon everyone and a happy new year! You might notice from the byline that I have moved my mainly mobile practice into a new physical plant.

The doctors and staff of Ardmore Animal Hospital have bravely accepted a business re­lationship with the sole doctor and the one em­ployee of Large Animal Veterinary Services.

Who knows what havoc will arise from this liason? But I, for one, am excited about the future. So now, on with the article.

The old saying, “ Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” implies that the mouth of a horse may hold some information important to the situa­tion.

I cannot agree with that more. The mouth of a horse is literally the entryway to a healthy, athletic animal.

Without a functional mouth, the horse cannot prepare feed for diges­tion. A non- functional mouth hinders the abil­ity of a horse to respond to a rider via the bit.

A mouth with a prob­lem adversely affects a horse’s temperament.

Infections in a horse’s mouth can shed bacteria into the horse’s blood­stream.

Several important structures are located in a horse’s mouth, but this article will deal primar­ily with teeth.

A horse is meant to graze and grind feed for its energy.

The front teeth or incisors are responsible for the grazing action and the molars do the grinding.

Teeth such as the wolf teeth and the canine teeth serve other func­tions.

The grazing and grinding action of teeth produce wear on the teeth and wear can cause the formation of dental sharp edges called “ points.”

Floating equine teeth is the process of grind­ing these points down to improve the action of the teeth. The procedure for floating teeth has evolved dramatically through the years since I graduated from veteri­nary college.

In 1989 when I gradu­ated, the current idea was to float only those horses old enough to have their adult teeth ( about 5 years old).

The process involved using hand files called “ floats” to remove any offending dental points.

Floating teeth was a wild and strenuous ac­tivity sometimes dan­gerous to patient and doctor. But, times have changed.

Today dental care begins at the time of the horse’s entrance into training, from 12 to 18 months old.

Advances in sedation, equipment, restraint techniques and vet­erinary education have calmed the process.

Today’s licensed vet­erinarian can use medi­cations to sedate a horse and allow the patient to stand in a set of stocks with the horse’s head supported for stability.

A lighted speculum is used to prop open and illuminate the mouth.

Rotary high- speed power tools have largely replaced the hand floats. Appropriate medical therapy can include antitetanus vaccines and antibiotics to address additional dental prob­lems.

In short, working on horse teeth is a thrill and contributes directly to the health and hap­piness of your horse.

Contact your licensed veterinarian for profes­sional information about your horse’s dental health.

Thanks for reading.