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      AAEP Equine Dental Care Guidelines

      In honor of Feburary being National Pet Dental Health Month, the American Association of Equine Practicioners (AAEP) has generously provided the following equine dental care guidelines. They note that these guidelines are intended to provide infomation for practitioners regarding the care and treatment of their equine patients, and that the information contained in these guidelines should not be construed as dictating an exclusive protocol, course of treatment or procedure. Additional equine insights from AAEP can be found on their "AAEP Touch" website, here. Of course, we've got plenty of equine resources on our own page as well. There are always new things to explore at! After all, we're #AllInOnEquine.


      Frequency of Visits

      All horses should have a veterinary oral and dental examination at least annually. For horses 2-5 years, over 20 years and those with known dental pathology, more frequent visits may be necessary. Decisions regarding specific frequency of visits should be based on the individual needs of the horse.


      Health Evaluation


      • History, including evaluation of:
      • Previous health concerns
      • Breed, life stage and life style (activity level)
      • General housing and management
      • Current ration/diet/pasture
      • Bitting and tack requirements
      • Behavior/vices



      • Comprehensive oral and dental examination including:
      • General health assessment (TPR)
      • Body condition scoring
      • Extra-oral masticatory system (visual and palpation)
      • Restraint and/or sedation
      • Incisor and canine evaluation
      • Intra-oral speculum examination (visual and palpation)



      On the basis of history and oral and dental exam findings, assessments are made for:

      • Masticatory and/or weight loss problems
      • Bitting and/or headshaking issues
      • Head asymmetry, draining tracts, and/or nasal discharge
      • Deciduous teeth condition and exfoliation
      • Incisor and/or canine problems
      • Abnormal dental wear patterns
      • Diastema and/or periodontal disease



      Client communication and education plans should include the following elements.


      Diagnostic Plan

      Every horse should have:

      • Annual comprehensive oral and dental examination

      Customized plan based upon:

      • Age, use, and dental exam findings
      • Young horses evaluated for deciduous teeth condition and exfoliation
      • Radiographs for older horses suspected of having EOTRH (Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption) and Hypercementosis


      Therapeutic Plan

      Every horse should have: 

      • Based on the yearly dental exam, routine floating of sharp points and occlusal abnormalities

      Customized plan based upon:

      • Referral information/findings
      • Oral examination with mirrors, oral endoscope, dental picks and/or probes
      • Upper respiratory system endoscopy
      • Nasal discharge
      • Extra-oral radiographs
      • Intra-oral radiographs


      Prevention Plan

      Every horse should have: 

      • Oral home hygiene
      • Feeding plan, diet changes
      • Tack changes or training adjustments

      Customized plan based upon:

      • Flush, clean, open and/or pack diastemata
      • Occlusal adjustments and odontoplasty
      • Extraction of loose, decayed or retained deciduous teeth (young horses)
      • Extraction of wolf teeth
      • Extraction of loose, decayed and/or fractured senile teeth (geriatric horses)
      • Referral for advanced diagnostics and/or specialist therapy


      Follow-Up Plan

      • Establish plan for follow-up based upon assessment and treatment
      • Recommend future care considerations
      • Schedule date for next visit or reminder notice



      • Thorough charting and documentation of patient visit should be left with the client (individualized dental chart).
      • Chart should include accepted dental nomenclature and graphics so that any veterinarian can follow-up (see AAEP Proceedings Annual Convention 2010 & 2014)