What is "floating"?
"Floating" is the process of removing overgrown areas of a horse's teeth to improve comfort and chewing efficiency.
Does my horse need to be floated? How often should it be performed?
Every horse should have regular dental care to maximize the life span of their teeth and to help provide good quality of life. Most horses can be maintained on an annual basis, but some may require more frequent attention if oral problems exist. Horses should begin annual examinations/floating at 1 1/2 years of age.
Who can float my horse's teeth?
In most states, only licensed veterinarians can provide full oral care for your horse. A licensed veterinarian can legally sedate your horse, provide any necessary pain relief or nerve blocks, extract teeth, and provide diagnosis and treatment of any oral pathology.
Why do horses need to have their teeth floated?
Unlike humans, horses have hypsodont teeth (continually erupt through the life time of the tooth). Horses chew in a grinding fashion and will wear down most of the surface of their teeth as they grind the upper teeth against the lower teeth. A portion of the surface of their teeth do not get worn down and can become quite sharp. These sharp enamel points can cause significant trauma to the soft tissues of the mouth and can cause a horse to be unable to chew effectively. Other problems commonly noted may be issues associated with placement of a bit in the horse's mouth, weight loss, difficulty chewing, or abnormal head carriage when eating or being ridden. Floating reduces these traumatic enamel points, providing the horse with a comfortable mouth. The points will return as the teeth continue to erupt, necessitating annual care.
Besides having sharp enamel points reduced, why else should I have my horse's mouth examined?
Young horses, ranging from 2-5 years of age, have numerous deciduous teeth being expelled and permanent teeth replacing them. These deciduous teeth can become stuck and necessitate extraction to allow the adult teeth to erupt normally. Older horses, usually over 20 years of age, can develop problems with their aging teeth. These horses have teeth that have been erupting over many years, and some teeth may become excessively worn since they are no longer erupting like they were when the horse was younger. These over-worn teeth, combined with their shortened roots, are prone to becoming loose or fractured and requiring extraction to prevent root infections or painful chewing. Other less commonly diagnosed problems that require veterinary care include cavities, periodontal disease, sinus disease from tooth root infections, and misaligned teeth. Proper identification and treatment of any of these conditions is necessary to maximize the life of the horse's teeth and to provide a good quality of life.